Join Our Community of Innovators

In the P.D. Merrill Makerspace and across campus, the Office of Innovation team partners with students, faculty, and professional staff from virtually every unit at the University.

We foster innovative, creative solutions to real-world problems, sponsor programs, and special events, and act as a nexus between the UNE community and expert professional mentors from leading businesses and organizations across the region.

We also serve as innovation consultants to faculty and professional staff who want to bring creative change to their own programs.
 

Mission

We inspire, equip and prepare people to be innovators, solving real-world problems through technology, design thinking, experiential learning and multi-disciplinary collaboration. 

Vision

People at UNE are fearless innovators, with the skills needed to bring original ideas and positive change to whatever field they are in. 

Values

We:

  • Encourage experimentation and failure 
  • Provide a welcoming, diverse and inclusive environment
  • Empower students to lead as much as possible
  • Teach and practice empathy 
  • Are optimistic and collaborative
  • Promote the use of technology as an essential skill
     
A U N E student poses with her project at the innovation showcase
Two U N E students work on a project in the Makerspace
Three U N E students brainstorm innovative ideas in front of a white board
Two U N E students pose with their project in the Makerspace
U N E students work with drones as part of their innovation project

Key Innovation Principles at UNE

Open to Anyone

We partner with students, faculty, and professional staff from virtually every unit at the University. In our Makerspace, you’ll find graduate and undergraduate students from different disciplines, working on projects to bring positive change. This welcoming environment creates a community that gives students a sense of belonging on campus. We also serve as internal consultants to units across the university, supporting faculty and staff in their innovation initiatives. We cultivate an open, inclusive, collaborative culture, with a focus on having fun.

Real-World Experiences

Many students come to college with energy and passion to make a difference. Our innovation programs give them the tools they need to make visible, positive change happen. We put a priority on giving students the opportunity to work on real-world projects in areas that they care about. As a result, students feel connected and empowered to work through obstacles and persevere. We teach them to rethink ‘failures’ as learning experiences. Our students have made a tangible, visible difference both on and off campus in fields as diverse as healthcare, education, student life, and marine science.

Training in Collaboration

We help students learn what they are best at and then work with teams to identify how their individual strengths contribute to the overall effort. Students often find group projects to be a challenging experience. In our innovation programs, we provide the support and structure to make the team experience a positive one. Students develop a better understanding of what it means to work on a team and how they can uniquely contribute. Our innovation teams are highly successful at not only delivering high-quality projects but fostering a positive team experience with skills that students can take into their future careers.

I wouldn't be as open and confident as I am today if it weren't for my innovation team." — Amy, Medical Biology '24

Transformative Change

Students often come to us to add experience to their resumes. What they get is so much more. While our students often deliver impressive project results, we are most excited by the transformation in their personal skills, a change that sets them up for success in whatever field they choose. They are confident, collaborative, able to tolerate ambiguity, and have a solid understanding of how to act on ideas and make them happen.

Technical Proficiency

We believe students need to be comfortable, if not proficient, with technology relevant to their field. We provide access to high-powered computers and software and mentor students in developing their digital literacy skills - whether they are prototyping an app or working on a data science application. Many of our students start with no knowledge of ‘coding’ and develop confidence in their capabilities. This knowledge of technology and flexible mindset has helped many of our students get jobs.

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U N E president James Herbert stands with a student in front of a poster depicting innovation at U N E

Training in Communication

Being an effective communicator is a skill required in almost every field. In our innovation programs, we teach students to be effective storytellers and provide individualized coaching in presentation skills. These communication skills are intentionally developed through mentorship and practice. As a result, our students are not only effective communicators but are confident in their abilities - appearing on TV and in competitions and presenting to large audiences..

Professional Coaching and Mentoring

Our innovation team provides coaching and mentoring to students, helping them connect with people in their fields who can support their projects. We maintain an extensive network of mentors from the community and are well-connected to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Maine. Depending on the needs of individual projects, our students may work with outside experts. In a typical semester, we might have student teams working with experts in engineering, interactive design, finance, healthcare, marketing, and entrepreneurship. It’s a way to gain real resume-building skills within a structure that supports students’ ideas and passions.

The work I did in the Makerspace gave me skills that I've been able to apply in my current job." — Andy, Marine Science '21

Path to Internships and Career Opportunities

The focus of our programs is on very practical, real-world skills that enable our students to stand out in their job applications and in their careers. We work closely with employers to understand what they are looking for and tailor our programs to that set of skills. Our students can often make a direct link from their innovation projects to their future internship and job offers. We love hearing their success stories.

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