About the IDEA Institute

The IDEA Institute is creating a new educational environment that accelerates innovations in 21st century learning. Partnerships with industry, universities and the world beyond our campus provide opportunities for students to apply engineering, design, technology, media, creativity and innovation to real world projects.

The IDEA Institute has been supporting faculty and student innovators since it began in Fall 2010 (beginning first as the RISE program), accelerating student innovations with the opening of the IDEA Lab in Fall 2014. The IDEA Lab successfully mentored teams to submit designs that impact the common good to the National Science Foundation Community College Innovation Challenge, resulting in one being selected as a national winner and another a top ten national finalist. Students are collaborating on projects from Mali to the Philippines and in our local neighborhoods.  The learning experience in IDEA is at the heart of 21st century learning. It is self-directed, unscripted, and relevant to the complex challenges of our times.

Recent awards:

The IDEA Institute was awarded a Colorado Community College System Innovation Grant (2017-2018) to Create Workforce for the Innovation Economy. This project will support both faculty and students to engage in design-thinking, hands-on STEM, and purposeful experiences while creating an ecosystem of collaboration and makerspaces to support innovative learning. The project will also create connections to career pathways by developing badges and eportfolios that demonstrate 21st century and professional skills. 

Xcel Energy Foundation is supporting the work of the IDEA Institute (2017-2018) to expand interdisciplinary project-based learning into high schools. The IDEA Institute is creating a design challenge for high school teams and the funding will support workshops in making and doing (3D printing, programming, multimedia, etc.) to develop physical prototypes of the design. 

About the Director:

Liz Cox is passionate about creating opportunities for students to find their path to purpose. As Director of the IDEA Institute, she advances campus-wide student innovation and entrepreneurial thinking through curriculum as well as through project-based experiential opportunities.

As an academic entrepreneur, she co-founded IIWE: International Institute for Women in Engineering in Paris, France, led projects in experiential learning, and founded the IDEA Lab, a cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation space. Students she has mentored have created social impact organizations and been named national winners of the National Science Foundation Community College Innovation Challenge.