Bachelor of Innovation students help local and international organizations

September 12, 2016

Kyle Guthrie

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     UCCS has offered a Bachelor of Innovation degree for the last ten years. The degree aims at nurturing a student’s innovative talents so that they can improve organizations and the campus.

     One new addition to the BI degree is BI teams, where groups of students go to businesses and help the owners create new ideas for promotion.

     The BI teams work with local, national and international companies and organizations. Clients also include both for-profit and non-profit companies.

     The project started as a way for BI students to gain multi-disciplinary team experience, along with projects that combine technical, business and educational factors for different experiences.

     Teams aren’t just limited to cold business experience because of the wide range of skills learned, according to Colleen Stiles, co-director of the Bachelor of Innovation program.

     These projects include technical, business and music projects as well as training videos.

     One of these projects involved African Development Promise, an international nongovernmental organization that helps to develop women’s agricultural co-operatives in Rwanda.

     “Our BI team helped facilitate that development as well as interfacing and working on their media. That was several years ago, and our students are still volunteering for that program,” said Stiles.

     A local job can help build students’ experience as well, according to Stiles.

     In the past, students have worked with Ted Sundquist, general manager for the Denver Broncos, to help develop a virtual reality training system for second-tier quarterbacks using Oculus Rift, a virtual reality program.

     “The team pivoted to help him develop a business strategy to help sell it to EA Sports the next semester,” said Stiles.

     Innovation can be thought of a team sport, according to Nina Polok, program executive for the BI program.

     “If we take what we want to understand in the innovation process, and we know it requires teaming and the ability to communicate with somebody outside your own field… then we can sort of look at ‘what skills does this require in order to play a role in the innovation process?’” said Polok.

     One of the most interesting points of the program is the high number of returning clients interested in BI teams working with them, according to Polok.

     “We have clients that come back semester after semester, so they’ll perhaps start a project, it will progress during the semester, and then a new team will take it on the next semester,” Polok explained.

     The BI is the most in-depth and real-world oriented in terms of student experience.

     “You don’t get any more real-life than this in an academic setting,” Polok said.

     “As far as we can tell, it’s the only program in the world at the undergraduate level that looks at doing this kind of thing.”