About the IDEA Institute

The IDEA Institute reimagines education for the changing world of work.

Recognizing that community college students will need skills to thrive in an environment disrupted by technological and socioeconomic changes, the IDEA Institute creates spaces and experiences for non-traditional learners to gain skills in self-direction, problem-solving, collaboration and innovation. Partnerships with business, industry, universities and communities provide IDEA students with real world experiences to gain professional, technical and creativity skills.

Our History

The college launched RISE in 2010 through support from a community donor to reimagine community college education. RISE supported several initiatives to rethink learning and the traditional classroom environment, resulting in K-16 STEM faculty collaboration,  project-based experiences that connect the classroom to the community, and the creation of the IDEA Lab in 2014.

The IDEA Lab plays a critical role in student innovation by serving as a sandbox for student experimentation in self-directed learning and 21st century education. The IDEA Lab demonstrated its value early on by supporting a student team who won first place in the 2015 National Science Foundation’s Community College Innovation Challenge and more recently supporting a 2019 Cybersecurity team to place second in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition. 

Our Work

The IDEA Institute is creating a framwork to prepare diverse students to thrive in the new economy.  Students working in the IDEA Lab experience self-directed learning, prepare and deliver workshops for their peers, and become leaders of innovation on campus. For faculty, the IDEA Institute co-sponsors the Faculty Innovation Institute along with the Trefny Honors Program. Faculty participants work on interdisciplinary projects. Past participants have seeded and launched a radio station for Red Rocks, and math and science have partnered to offer special topics courses such as Building a Spark Chamber. 

The IDEA Institute is a founding member of RRCC's Center for Engagement and Innovation (known as "the HUB") to incubate and expand high-impact practices across the College. The HUB supports students and faculty through research, service-learning and community engagement, experiential learning, internships, innovation and entrepreneurship, and internationalization.