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Inworks: Making Things that Matter

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Katherine Goodman University of Colorado - Denver Orcid 16x16

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Katherine Goodman is assistant professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, in Inworks, a new innovation lab. She recently completed her PhD at the ATLAS Institute in Technology, Media, and Society. Her research focuses on experiential learning in engineering education. She also holds a B.S. in mathematics and a masters of professional writing.

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Heather Underwood Inworks

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Heather Underwood is an Assistant Professor and the Associate Director of Inworks at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus. Heather teaches courses in human-centered design, computer science, human health and longevity, and information and communication technologies for global development. Her research interests include exploring the potential of interdisciplinary education and effective collaboration to solve complex global issues; developing novel, low-cost, and effective health-promoting and health-restoring devices; and innovating in the areas of biotechnology, human longevity, and digital health.

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John K. Bennett Inworks; University of Colorado - Denver

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Inworks is a new initiative of the University of Colorado Denver and Anschutz Medical Campus that draws together faculty, staff and students from across the two campuses, as well as entrepreneurs and leaders from industry, government, education and the community to address problems of importance to human society. The primary purpose of Inworks is to create innovative solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems while, in the process, creating lifelong innovators. We do this by scaffolding collaborative innovation and providing extensive facilities for rapid prototyping. Through hands-on, human-centered, team-based projects, students at Inworks learn to think critically, creatively, integratively and transformatively; to develop solutions when the problems themselves are not well defined; to embrace innovation and entrepreneurship; to analyze and synthesize vast amounts of information; to have substantial qualitative and quantitative skills; to have both a global perspective and an eye for detail; to collaborate effectively in interdisciplinary teams; and to lead when leadership is called for. Inworks, drawing upon ideas from modern entrepreneurial practice, was created to provide educational experiences that develop these intellectual capacities. We do this by providing a scaffold for innovation that integrates empathy, creativity and practicality to match human need with feasibility. By helping to create experiences that allow individuals to encounter their own creativity, we show students how to be intentional about the way they work together to solve significant problems. Inworks opened in the spring of 2015, and began offering courses in fall 2015 at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Inworks is not situated within an existing department, school or college, providing a unique opportunity for faculty and students from a wide variety of disciplines to collaborate with each other and with off-campus individuals and organizations. Thus, although many Inworks faculty come from engineering backgrounds, our students come from every academic unit on campus. Our courses focus on human-centered design, and include an emphasis on human health, in part due to our connection to the medical campus. This paper describes our origins and approach, and summarizes some of our progress and challenges to date.

Goodman, K., & Underwood, H., & Bennett, J. K. (2016, June), Inworks: Making Things that Matter Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25494

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