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The Spring Break in Silicon Valley group with Microsoft Panelists.

Editor’s note:  The following is a post from Charlene Hinton, one of a group of students who recently returned from the iSchool’s signature trip – Spring Break in Silicon Valley.

Several preconceived notions accompanied me on my way to Silicon Valley. These notions included the ubiquity of genius ideas fighting for capital, the never-ending flow of “play” money, and the cutthroat competition struggling for the lucky chance to become the next Facebook. However, that soon changed after the first day.

The second day caught me by surprise because I learned that although genius ideas are abundant, only a few survive and go into execution.

The third day demystified any romantic perception I had about the “money tree” because I learned from venture capitalists that funds take an incredibly long time to raise.

By day four, it became clear to me what truly fuels the innovation in this area. Hearing employees, managers, and founders talk about their companies with genuine excitement and passion for what they are doing shot down any – and probably all – inaccurate notions I had.

These admirable, honorable people are not here chasing after the money. In fact, they will tell you that once you do, you’re company is bound to fail. Instead, most of them have a vision – an authentic and intrinsic desire to make this world a better place. Their priority is to change lives and make them better.

One such company, Leap Motion, is making magic a reality with their revolutionary motion controller that will enable better human-computer interaction. They believe that “technology is getting in the way of technology,” and their device will soon solve this issue, thus breaking down the barrier that impedes progress.

The co-founder of MindSnacks,  Jesse Pickard, embodies perseverance and drive to make his vision of having MindSnacks games on mobile phones that educate people of all ages around the world in a fun, engaging way.

Venture capitalist Chris Smith of Coral Group gives entrepreneurial lectures to university students, encouraging them to focus on problems and providing a solution to it. He became involved in providing personal capital to deserving startups because this is how he alone can impact people and the world.

In their own ways, these people and companies are contributing to the advancement of humanity, indelibly leaving their mark in small and large prints that will be felt by generations to come. That is ultimately the underlying current that drives innovation and healthy competition in the valley.

As for me, I have no doubt in my mind that I will be touching the lives of others as a result of the experiences I have gained on this awe-inspiring Spring Break in Silicon Valley.