Innovation Minor

The mindset of creativity and empathy in the interdisciplinary collaboration of transforming ideas into meaning and value.

The Innovation Minor provides a formal structure to introduce and develop the innovative mindset that focuses on problem-solving through creativity and design, empathy, hands-on making, and collaboration. The program is open to all majors and concentrations creating spaces for cross-disciplinary collaboration and opportunities for students to push the boundaries of their areas of interest.  



Applying to the Innovation Minor

Before registering for INV200, students must complete and submit the Innovation Minor Application. Applications are reviewed by the Innovation Minor Advisory Board.

The Innovation Minor Application consists of:

  • Statement of Purpose
  • Student’s one-page resume
  • Letter of academic recommendation

Step 1: Write a Statement of Purpose (cover letter) Write approximately 1200 words covering the following topics: a) Tell us about that time where you developed a creative solution to solve a problem. b) Explain your role in a collaborative setting and how you worked with others to achieve a goal or solve a problem. c) Define what “human-centered” means to you and your area of professional interest. Visit the Writing Center if you need assistance.

Step 2: Create a one-page resume
Here are some resources to help you build your resume. Visit the Career Center if you need more assistance.

Step 3: Letter of Academic Recommendation
Provide one letter of recommendation from a UP faculty or staff attesting to your academic and personal aptitude for the program. Have your recommender email their letter directly to the Director of Innovation Minor noting your name and ID number.

Step 4: Submit your materials to the Innovation Application Form (do not email them).

Innovation Application Form


Students making.

About the Innovation Mindset

The innovative mindset aligns students within the critical role of “people creating value through the implementation of new ideas.” We further subscribe to the notion that creating value is through any human-created artifact, not only physical “things” or technologies. Whereby meaningful creations should seek to improve the quality of life, engage users, instigate change, and provide value for organizations and stakeholders, that does not necessarily involve a profit-motive.

Experiential learning is exercised in every course. Students will be introduced to specific frameworks and methods, and gain developing skills and techniques through supporting assignments. Methods are drawn from the areas of human-centered design, creative thinking, design, and collaboration; and are contextualized and practiced through real-world problems facilitated by industry partners (a listing of verified sponsors will be provided later).

The Innovation Minor is a shift towards interdisciplinary and collaborative learning; seeking to instill a mindset and develop the necessary skills to pivot, adapt, and respond to the rapidly changing and increasingly complex landscape.

For the complete set of course requirements, refer to the University Bulletin. Scholarships available for students enrolled in majors at the Shiley School of Engineering, students must apply to inquire.


"Creativity is developing original ideas that have value ..." – Mitchel Resnick

By the end of the minor students will have a collection of creative strategies that will enable them to see the world differently, reframe problems, and employ new methods for generating ideas. Students will unlock their creative confidence to generate new ideas and discover how design is used to translate and communicate those ideas into value and meaning.


"Those who are experiencing the problems are the ones who will reveal the path to the solution." – IDEO

Students will discover and develop their ability to empathize with those they might find themselves in service of: your customers, the customers of your clients, and especially those you will find yourself collaborating with as colleagues. Gain exposure to observational research tactics and human-centered design methods to uncover the needs and wants of people in specific contexts and problem spaces. The Innovation Minor will introduce the role of creativity and design to transform empathy into compassion.


"Making is the universal infrastructure of production." – Daniel Charny

Students will have the opportunity to discover their personal limits of making to help communicate their ideas, make systems to learn more about their audience, and generate artifacts and prototypes to test and exponentially refine their ideas.

The Innovation Minor will explore the spectrum of making: from sketching and drawing, to prototyping objects, rapid prototyping digital experiences, and working with micro-controllers, sensors, and actuators. Opportunities include exploring emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented and virtual reality, and all of the materials and tools found in the University of Portland Pilot Space.


"The ability to collaborate is a crucial component to a successful career in any practice."

The Innovation Minor is an interdisciplinary program striving to shape cohorts of students from each of the schools and college on campus: The Pamplin School of Business, Shiley School of Engineering, College of Arts & Sciences, School of Nursing, and the School of Education.

By applying to the Innovation Minor students will join an interdisciplinary cohort, where they will become more than their chosen major. Students will have the opportunity to discover what lies at the intersection of their chosen major and the innovative mindset.



Students in Think Tank

Experiential learning in every course

Each course in the Innovation Minor will have an experiential learning component by inviting industry partners to give talks, pose design challenges, facilitate workshops, and sponsor practicum projects.

Partnerships are developed in collaboration with the Industry Relations Manager of the Shiley School of Engineering and the Office of Development. Partnerships are announced before the start of class.

Partner with the Innovation Minor



Questions regarding the Innovation Minor? Send an email to