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Innovation Engineering Minor

University of Maine

Promising Approaches

  • (2) Incorporate discussion of current local, national, and international issues and events into the classroom, particularly those that young people view as important in their lives.
  • (6) Encourage students’ participation in forums that model democratic processes and procedures.


Recognizing that The University of Maine can be a key participant in the new Creative Economy of Maine, as described by Governor Baldacci and other state leaders of all political parties, a group of interdisciplinary faculty members is collaborating on a new minor in Innovation Engineering. It will begin with this introductory course (INT 280 Innovation Engineering) and lead to opportunities for students to integrate a range of academic backgrounds from art to business and engineering with innovative engineering and business savvy and team-building skills.  The goal is to help them recognize their potential to implement creative and marketable ideas as entrepreneurs, workers, and citizens living in Maine as well as “jump start” their active contributions by helping to bridge the gap between classroom and community.

Students will learn how innovation has been defined and analyzed historically, study lives of major innovators, learn how to generate and test new ideas, and define the correct audience and beneficiaries for specific creative ideas (whether school board, town council, peers, corporation, or small business).  Students will be asked to address the human values and potential economic and social impact of one of their ideas, and to discuss different persuasive techniques that will help their idea prevail in the marketplace of ideas. Along the way, they will examine ideas from marketing, rhetoric, and science about how ideas are generated, tested, and marketed, and how creative people in their generation can contribute to positive social change.  This content will be grounded in case studies, which help students apply academic concepts to the real world and develop analytic skills in contexts that require analysis, synthesis, and ethical decision-making.  Team process and team-work will be emphasized, as well as specific skills and repeated practice in writing persuasive e-mails, letters, memos, and presentations. 

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic knowledge: Recognize characteristics and actions of effective, participating citizens and innovators; identify, define, analyze, and describe local problems and opportunities and make connections to state and national problems; discuss and explore the variety of ways that young people can solve social problems creatively, whatever their academic major.
  • Civic skills:  Process and evaluate information and ideas for objectivity, accuracy, innovation, and usefulness to different groups; apply and develop critical thinking to solve problems and assess the prospects for success of new ideas; use oral and written communication to persuade others to make positive changes; work cooperatively with others and develop and maintain effective teams; know how to listen, work together to overcome problems, and influence decisions for the Maine and national economy in a positive way.
  • Civic attitudes:  Develop a sense of personal efficacy as a leader and innovator; learn to enter into meaningful dialogues with others and understand their perspectives; learn to resist simplistic answers to complex questions; aspire to contribute to the community; develop confidence in their capacity to make a difference and improve the common good.

Contact Information

Darrell W. Donahue, Ph.D.
Assoc. Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering
The University of Maine

Margaret A. Lukens,, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of English
The University of Maine

Elizabeth (Liz) Downing
Coordinator of New Student Programs
The University of Maine

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy