Planning Process


The Innovation Academy represents the academic component of Innovate ABQ.  The Innovation Academy inspires the beginning of the problem-solving ‘idea pipeline,’ whereas Innovate ABQ implements the applied outcomes of the ‘idea pipeline.’  In addition to launching the entrepreneurs of the future, the Innovation Academy will also provide a location where UNM faculty learn how to be better teachers and pilot new pedagogies that offer a robust means of incorporating real-world problems into the classroom.  

A key element of the Innovation Academy is the notion of a physical ‘convergence space’ located at the downtown Innovate ABQ site. There is evidence that creativity is sparked by connecting people with disparate interests in common spaces that allow for interactions that otherwise would not be likely to occur. Drawing upon the proximity to people and businesses with the entrepreneurial outlook fostered by Innovate ABQ, the Innovation Academy will inspire creativity and offer UNM’s faculty and students opportunities to incorporate real world, problem based and service learning pedagogical concepts into their courses.

Some of the academic programs being developed or expanded for the Innovation Academy site will focus on helping students develop businesses of their own, which is a natural fit for a problem-based learning approach.   But programs at the Innovation Academy will not be solely business-related.  Service-based and problem-based learning concepts are applicable to all fields of study.

Public engagement has always been a big part of UNM’s mission. We envision those living, learning and working at the Innovation Academy putting their talent and skills to work solving some of the big problems faced by Albuquerque and the State of New Mexico.  Bringing real world problem solving into the classroom helps students not only learn by doing, but also helps build their knowledge and creativity. In the process or proposing solutions to problems, students will generate new ideas for services and products that will lead to new businesses and jobs.

With a deliberate mission to foster interdisciplinary exchange and collaboration within UNM’s teaching, research and public service missions, Innovation Academy helps students and faculty integrate multiple approaches and skills in their own work, and to bring their creativity to projects they would otherwise not encounter. This invaluable, hands-on experience will be a tremendous asset to students, as well as to the community and the state, regardless of whether the students intend to pursue traditional disciplinary or vocational careers, or whether they hope to forge their own career paths.  The process of piloting and developing new learning methodologies will be anchored in traditional measures of quality such as assessment of program outcomes and pedagogical effectiveness.  

The Innovation Academy is being developed by a subcommittee of the UNM Economic Development Council (EDC) .  Chaired by Interim Senior Vice Provost Carol Parker, the subcommittee is comprised of deans and faculty from law, business, the arts, engineering, architecture and education who are working to identify potential programs and curriculum for the Academy.  Members currently include:   Douglas Brown; Viola Florez; Geraldine Forbes; Kymberly Pinder; David Herring; Sanjay Krishna; Kate Krause; Dante Di Gregorio; Kevin Malloy; Stacy Sacco; Joseph Cecchi; Michael Dougher; Virginia Scharff; Graham Timmins; Eric Prossnitz; Nancy Ann Ridenour; and Cara Michaliszyn.

The Innovation Academy planning group is in the process of actively recruiting UNM’s most innovative faculty to propose pilot programs that fit within this framework.  

Initial pilot projects are expected to be in operation by Fall Semester 2014, to be housed in existing UNM spaces while the Downtown Innovate ABQ site is being developed.  A concept paper describing the vision and goals for the Innovation Academy in more detail is available