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More engineering and liberal arts students will work together on innovative solutions to real-world problems through the Center for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership, known as IDEAL.

The transformative initiative will support multidisciplinary learning, collaboration, and entrepreneurship. IDEAL will foster distinctive learning experiences by providing resources, curricular connections, and incentives that build and sustain a culture of creative collaboration.

Combining curricular initiatives, co-curricular initiatives, and multidisciplinary projects, IDEAL will be a central laboratory and studio for ideas, projects, and collaborations with real-world purposes. Students, faculty, and external partners will be involved in campus-wide opportunities for students to learn and apply the skills, perspectives, and attributes of creative leaders in the business, nonprofit, and governmental sectors.

A presentation on the IDEAL Center was given to the Board of Trustees in February by Scott Hummel, Interim Jeffers Director of Engineering. Implementation is envisioned over a four-year period. The first project is Business Link, an intensive introduction to the operating environment of global business linked to the students’ academic interests in the liberal arts. It will be piloted this summer, and the first multidisciplinary projects will begin in early 2014.

“Launching the new IDEAL Center is the culmination of many advances the College has made in the last few years in integrating the liberal arts and engineering,” says Provost Wendy Hill. “A key element will be the multidisciplinary design projects in which engineering and liberal arts students work together on innovative solutions to real-world problems. This exciting moment will be remembered as the time when we truly leveraged our broad curriculum and offered opportunities for applied liberal learning in a way that no other undergraduate college can.”

Edward Gamber, David M. ’70 and Linda Roth Professor of Economics, and John Nestor, professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been named the Robert Adenbaum Co-Chairs of the IDEAL Center. The positions have been endowed by the generous support of the late Robert W. Adenbaum ’49, who was owner of Palm Beach Industrial Park Inc., Jupiter, Fla., and received a B.S. in administrative engineering from Lafayette and a master’s from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College, also played a critical role in developing the IDEAL vision.

The center’s design will give students the opportunity to connect liberal arts perspectives to real-world issues, to acquire practical skills for the business world, to develop global and multicultural perspectives, and to deepen leadership skills for working collaboratively.

“We envision the center becoming a central hub for the current multidisciplinary courses and initiatives,” says Gamber.

The launch of the first multidisciplinary projects this fall is possible through the support and enthusiasm of Donald E. Morel Jr. ’79, chairman and CEO, West Pharmaceutical Services, Inc. A member of the Board of Trustees, he is a metallurgical engineering graduate and holds a Ph.D. in materials science and in veterinary medicine from Cornell University.

Categorized in: Academic News, Dyer Center, Engineering, Faculty and Staff, Interdisciplinary, News and Features, Students
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  1. This does sound like a great idea! It seems awfully similar, though, to what the Tech Clinic has been doing for years with small interdisciplinary teams working on innovative projects. What’s new about this IDEAL program?

    1. John Nestor says:

      Thank you very much for your question. The IDEAL Center will complement Tech Clinic by providing students with a wider range of opportunities for multidisciplinary learning. The center’s curricular initiatives will allow in-depth study of areas such as entrepreneurship, leadership, and design in the framework of a liberal arts or engineering degree. Co-curricular activities such as Business Link will provide students with intensive introduction to specific topics outside of the normal classroom environment. The multidisciplinary projects will attack a broad set of problems ranging from community engagement to engineering design. The center’s physical space and resources will support these efforts while encouraging students, faculty, and external sponsors to “bring their own content”.

  2. Catherine R. Perricone says:

    A great idea! The natural result of the collaboration that has existed at Lafayette College for many years. Perhaps a seminar explaining the benefits of IDEAL could form a part of the First Year experience.

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