We recently debuted the Green Launchpad Educators Workshop at the UMASS Lowell Innovation Hub in Lowell, Massachusetts. The workshop was designed for faculty working to create or improve courses and programs that engage students in sustainable innovation and STEM-based entrepreneurship. Sustainable design strategist, Jeremy Faludi, led the workshop. He introduced the participants to exercises on the following topics:
- metrics for measuring environmental and social impacts
- material choice
- energy effectiveness
- systems thinking
- green business model design
- pedagogical tools to help students work in groups
- tips to help students work with companies or other external stakeholders
Exercises and case studies on these topics are freely available and ready to use on the Tools for Design and Sustainability page of our website.
Senior program officer and workshop facilitator, Cindy Gilbert said, “We are pleased to provide this support for our sustainable design grantees and all faculty looking to integrate these principles into their courses. This workshop is the first step in a series of interactions we will take to support the advancement of sustainability initiatives at their respective institutions, including follow-on support through the development of a community of practice.”
According to Nancy Ruzycki, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate laboratories at the University of Florida, the workshop provided her with useful tools to share with students. “Most college laboratory experiences do not provide opportunities for students to have real-world sustainable design experiences. Learnings from this workshop will allow me to strengthen our students for innovation ideation as they move into careers and academia post-baccalaureate.”
Ilya Avdeev, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, found the community learning approach to the workshop valuable. “The workshop helped me get connected to other grantees and to join the community of practice around sustainability in education. I left informed, inspired, and hopeful for continuing collaboration and relationships with my colleagues.”
Tom O’Donnell, director of the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub, was encouraged by the growing interest in the topic. “We were honored to host and participate in the inaugural Green Launchpad Educators Workshop. Integrating sustainable invention and innovation practices into academic curriculum and programs aligns nicely with our mission of supporting entrepreneurial teams as they form, validate, and grow their ventures in environmentally and socially responsible ways.”
By providing both the tools and resources necessary to incorporate sustainability into innovation and entrepreneurship programs, faculty will be equipped to pioneer new ways that challenge students to invent green while gaining the entrepreneurial skills they need to bring their innovations to market.