IDEA Institute

The IDEA Institute coordinates and advances programs in engineering, innovation and project-based learning. The initiatives of the IDEA Institute aim to enhance collaborative, hands-on and interdisciplinary learning, advance professional skills through real world projects, and improve diversity in STEM education and workforce. 

Key Programs of the IDEA Institute:

***NEW***IDEA High School Innovation Challenge

This year the IDEA Institute is working with two Jeffco high schools to pilot a high school Innovation Challenge. Green Mountain High School and Summit Academy will support teams of students to identify a problem in food, water, energy or the environment, propose a solution, and prototype a physical artifact using their makerspaces. Prizes and Red Rocks scholarships will go to the top three teams. Stay tuned for more information! 

IDEA Lab: Transforming the Educational Environment

The IDEA Lab is the space where faculty and students explore, innovate and create. Here, the learning experience is self-directed and unscripted. The IDEA Lab creates a community of innovators who support each other through peer-to-peer learning. Part makerspace, part design studio, it is a space to learn a new skill, join a project, or explore an entrepreneurial venture.   

Engineering Transfer Pathways

The IDEA Institute builds innovative pathways for community college students to transfer to four-year STEM degrees. Articulation agreements, STEM research and internships, student clubs, and activities with our 4-year partner universities provide community college students with the support they need to successfully transfer into engineering and science degrees. 

Innovations in Project-Based Learning

Students in the IDEA class (EGT 140 Introduction to Design and Engineering Applications) form teams to work on real world problems through human-centered design, research, and prototyping a possible solution. The IDEA class transfers to Colorado School of Mines for EPICS I and to CU-Boulder for GEEN 1400 Engineering Projects. The IDEA class expands interdisciplinary project-based learning by partnering with other disciplines, such as Technical Writing and Multimedia Graphic Design.

Engineering and Community Projects

Students in the IDEA Lab partner with local innovators who are Uplifting the Future by providing technical solutions to community problems. UPLIFT (Uniting People in Learning and Ingenuity to Flourish and Thrive) began as a student group to support women farmers in Mali, West Africa to build a better farm and improve their livelihoods. UPLIFT has expanded beyond working in Mali to include multiple community development projects from typhoon-resistant greenhouses in the Philippines to improving STEM education in local schools. See the work of #UPLIFT on Facebook at @upliftingthefuture.

Addressing the Equity Gap in STEM Education

The IDEA Institute diversifies the STEM workforce by engaging community college students, often low-income, first-generation, underrepresented minorities and/or veterans, in STEM. With a grant from the National Science Foundation, the IDEA Institute enhances persistence of students along STEM pathways into transfer programs or the workforce through guided pathways, research and internships, and mentoring. See more about STEM education at Red Rocks Community College here.

IDEA Institute Faculty Fellows

The IDEA Institute Faculty Fellows program increases faculty capacity to launch curricular innovations around learner-centered approaches. Faculty fellows experiment with new ideas to deepen learning that is relevant to 21st century challenges. See the work of the Fellows here.