As a strategic platform for engagement between the Wheaton College community and the marketplace, the Innovation Lab tackles R&D projects for partner organizations.
The Innovation Lab works with people and organizations around the world to understand their business-related problems and deliver practical solutions that add value. These projects are paired with educational and technology resources and turned into experientially-rich, project-based learning opportunities to engage proactive Wheaton students. Multidisciplinary student teams will work with faculty and business coaches over the course of a semester or year to address these projects, gaining invaluable experience in applying the liberal arts and adding measurable value to partner organizations.
Work with teams and professionals on real-world problems. The Innovation Lab gives proactive Wheaton students the opportunity to collaborate on real-world business issues, gain invaluable experience, and receive training in human design thinking, project management, and other highly transferable skills. Students will also receive integrative theological mentoring throughout the research and development process.
- Develop working relationships with other students
- Build your resume and professional experience
- Receive coaching from faculty and marketplace professionals
- Use cutting-edge technological resources
- Receive a stipend
Put the Innovation Lab to work on your messy problems. Companies face dozens of problems they never get around to solving. With the Innovation Lab, your company can collaborate with interdisciplinary teams of Wheaton College students and faculty to address these important problems and business issues.
- Grow new insights and ideas
- Develop new solutions
- Identify and engage with emerging talent
- Mentor a new generation of bright students
Over the past four years, Wheaton business students have collaborated with companies to deliver marketing plans, market research, and customer insights. Companies include Fortune 500 organizations, industry associations, academic institutions, social enterprises, non-profits, entertainment organizations, a high-end luxury resort, and new ventures.
A liberal arts education cultivates highly important skills such as critical thinking, communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. The disciplinary structure within which this education takes place also contributes a variety of more specialized and applied skill-sets and knowledge. For example:
- Insights drawn from Anthropology and Sociology are used in business and non-profits to create marketing strategies, understand customers and clients, drive management strategies, and design human resources policies and programs.
- Art is applied to product design, packaging, and advertising and is important in designing creative and inspiring workspaces. It is also used in more specialized ways in therapy, publishing, and architecture.
- Students of foreign languages, who are also equipped with an understanding of culture and philosophy, can guide global organizations in the use of language to entertain, create humor, and establish relationships across cultures.
- English is essential in all areas of business, especially for marketing and management.
- Skills learned through a History degree can used to understand a specific organization or industry and how it fits into the broader economic/political structure of a country.
- Philosophy students are well equipped to help companies grapple with meaning in the creation of their mission and vision statements and the alignment of those statements with their strategies.
The Innovation Lab accepts business issues from across a variety of functions and organizational levels. Project types include:
- Marketing campaign
- Product development or pivot
- Social impact analyses
- Market research
- Business process
- Social media
- Business planning and strategy
- Mobile apps
- Information technology
- Supply chain
- Talent management
- Facilities and space
- Global/cultural intelligence
- Students are trained in Human Centered Design and Agile project management. These approaches to project management support structure workflow in the Innovation Lab, and enhance student preparation for future work in any sector.
- In the context of an Innovation Lab project, students practice a range of activities and skills including quantitative and qualitative research, writing for technical and marketing applications, developing product prototypes, writing and verbal presentations, design and layout, programming, and more.
- Students will be given the opportunity to reflect theologically and ethically throughout the research and development cycle.
The Innovation Lab combines in-house tools, technology resources available through on-campus partners, and ad hoc technology acquisition. The emerging in-house inventory anticipates areas such as a VR/AR lab, tools for mobile application development, statistics/research software, graphic design, and 2D & 3D printing.