Purdue University Is Establishing an On-Campus Incubator Called The ‘Innovation College’

Purdue explores new programs relevant to the future of technology and engineering.

New practices developed under the Innovation College are expected to replace traditional classroom lectures. (Image courtesy of Purdue University.)

New practices developed under the Innovation College are expected to replace traditional classroom lectures. (Image courtesy of Purdue University.)

Purdue University is launching the “Innovation College”—a transdisciplinary program that aims to prepare students for future jobs that have yet to be created. This new college will become a ‘centralized virtual hub’ that functions as an incubator where Purdue’s faculty and staff can experiment with new educational programs and practices. Instead of focusing on certain fields, they will be encouraged to examine further by taking a transdisciplinary approach that will create unique learning experiences. Jay Akridge, the executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity at Purdue, expressed that the introduction of the Innovation College will facilitate an innovation culture in the university, which is necessary in today’s rapidly developing world.

“For us, there’s no better way to look toward the future than to cultivate an innovation mindset today,” he said. “We don’t know what higher education will look like in a decade, but if we have a culture of innovation in place here that’s driving new, high-impact ideas, we’ll lead that future,” he shares.

The World Economic Forum has already reported about the impact of the fourth industrial revolution and the challenges and opportunities that will be presented in the realm of business and education. Due to rapidly evolving environments, new skill sets and competencies are constantly being demanded. To remain relevant, education systems must be flexible enough to evolve along with emerging technologies while equipping students with the right skills they will need in their professional careers later on. To achieve this, trends in engineering education have displayed the significance of adopting both multi- and inter-disciplinary mechanisms in preparation for future cross-functional roles.

This means that students not only need to be adept in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, deep learning, and the like; but they also need to have an innovative mindset. IT engineers are no longer constricted within their own professional description, often needing to be involved in production systems in a manufacturing factory. This is similar to how a civil engineer might need to know how to code to successfully assess certain challenges and solutions or work with sophisticated digital systems.

According to Purdue, they intend to break out of traditional practices by focusing on relevant programs that will allow students to become “flexible, interdisciplinary thinkers and creative thinkers who are able to adapt and respond to these changes.”

“We’ve learned that we have to reinvent ourselves and try new things. This will create new curriculum opportunities that involve all disciplines to develop better teaching methods that will enhance learning for the students’ benefit,” shares Gary Bertoline, dean of Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

Bertoline shares that seed funding for the initial learning programs and courses might be acquired this January. Purdue will also be collaborating with Butler University’s Butler Beyond Transformation Lab to explore and develop these new ideas and opportunities. Both universities will establish its own internal infrastructure to support the ideation and implementation process. Purdue’s will include a dedicated college advisory committee composed of faculty fellows, students, and stakeholders who will review and solicit proposals for the curriculum. They will also exchange three faculty fellows between the campuses to expand their innovation efforts and collaborate on new discoveries.

The Innovation College will begin receiving funding this spring and is already slated to launch in Fall 2021. They expect innovation working groups, a faculty development program, and five new transdisciplinary programs to be established by July 2022.