Well, some students are demanding more of their education and universities are stepping up, providing them an opportunity to work outside the traditional parameters of academia. Innovation centers give interdisciplinary teams of students a chance to tackle a project in which they design, fabricate, and test a prototype that solves a particular problem; sometimes in conjunction with for-profit companies.
No specified number of hours, no professor at a podium, no classroom—just a deadline and a problem to be solved. Which raises a problem: Your average classroom is not the highly flexible, dynamic space that will stimulate, support, and contribute to success of the young innovator. But, what is?
Looking to answer this question, Herman Miller convened a Leadership Roundtable to explore the innovation process and develop characteristics of creative spaces. Comprised of university innovation center leaders, national associations tracking educational innovation, and architects and designers, the group focused on several questions:
• What are the characteristics of an innovator?
• What are the barriers to creativity and innovation on campus?
• What attributes of creative environments that make them unique and supportive of the innovative mind?
The answers to these questions all touched on the type of space needed. Innovation centers require spaces that satisfy both the physical and psychological components of innovation. They have to be an ecosystem in which ideas can grow uniquely with each project.
Pictured: Prasad Boradkar, Director of InnovationSpace (a transdisciplinary laboratory at ASU).