Idea Lab

Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Artistry

IDEA Lab logo

The IDEA Lab is a groundbreaking new initiative on campus designed to inspire students from different majors, backgrounds, and perspectives to come together to work on big, real-world issues. Using a Design Thinking process, students work in teams across UM-Dearborn's colleges - the College of Business, College of Engineering and Computer Science, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, and College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters - to tackle a complex problem in collaboration with a client from the Metro Detroit community.

A pilot launching in Fall 2019 will bring together students from Mathematics and Statistics, Bioengineering, and Educational Technology courses to work on strategies for growing the Maize and Blue Math Circle, a popular and successful program that helps local middle and high school students improve their skills in math in a fun and supportive environment.

How does it work?

Students working together

The principles are simple. Teams of students from three different colleges work together on a project for a portion of the semester together with a community partner who has a problem to be solved. The questions clients bring to the table can range from global ones: how do we, as a planet, deal with toxic waste produced by electronic products like cell phones? to local ones: how do we encourage our local community's transportation system to be more accessible to people with disabilities? 

The focus for student teams is on the process of design thinking, problem solving, and collaboration to address the posed question. That means the end product - the proposed solution developed by the teams - is not graded. Instead, students are encouraged to explore multiple possibilities, to take risks, and to potentially make wrong turns in the interest of developing innovative new ideas. There is no such thing as failure.

About the IDEA Lab

The IDEA Lab is an initiative of the UM-Dearborn Office of the Provost. It is the product of a yearlong collaborative development process among faculty across campus.

Maureen Linker, Professor of Philosophy and Library Director, directs the IDEA Lab. Librarians from the Mardigian Library provide research support and student coaching.

Email: UM-Dearborn-Idea-Lab@umich.edu