IDEAL Integrates Liberal Arts and Engineering

PLANS for a transformative new initiative designed to support multidisciplinarity, collaboration, and entrepreneurship were presented to the Board of Trustees in February.

Building on Lafayette’s strengths in liberal arts and engineering, the Center for Innovation, Design, Entrepreneurship, and Leadership— known as IDEAL—will foster distinctive learning experiences by providing resources, curricular connections, and incentives that build and sustain a culture of creative collaboration.

Combining curricular initiatives, co-curricular initiatives, and multidisciplinary projects, the center is planned to be a central laboratory and studio for ideas, projects, and collaborations with real-world purposes. Students, faculty, and external partners will be involved in campus-wide opportunities for students to learn and apply the skills, perspectives, and attributes of creative leaders in business, nonprofit, and governmental sectors.

Implementation of the center is envisioned over a four-year period. The first project—an intensive introduction to the operating environment of global business linked to the students’ academic interests in the liberal arts called Business Link—will be piloted this summer, and the first multidisciplinary projects will begin in fall 2013.

“Launching the new IDEAL Center is the culmination of many advances the College has made in the last few years in integrating the liberal arts and engineering,” says Provost Wendy Hill. “A key element will be the multidisciplinary design projects in which engineering and liberal arts students work together on innovative solutions to real-world problems. This exciting moment will be remembered as the time when we truly leveraged our broad curriculum and offered opportunities for applied liberal learning in a way that no other undergraduate college can.”

Edward Gamber, David M. ’70 and Linda Roth Professor of Economics, and John Nestor, professor of electrical and computer engineering, have been named the Robert Adenbaum Co-Chairs of the IDEAL Center. The positions have been endowed by the generous support of the late Robert W. Adenbaum ’49, who was owner of Palm Beach Industrial Park Inc., Jupiter, Fla. He received a B.S. in administrative engineering from Lafayette and a master’s from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Hannah Stewart-Gambino, dean of the College, and Scott Hummel, Interim Jeffers Director of Engineering, also played critical roles in developing the IDEAL vision.

The center’s design will give students the opportunity to connect liberal arts perspectives to real-world issues, to acquire practical skills for the business world, to develop global and multicultural perspectives in real-world contexts, and to deepen leadership skills for working collaboratively. “We envision the center becoming a central hub for the current multidisciplinary courses and initiatives,” says Gamber.

The first multidisciplinary projects will begin this fall thanks to the support and enthusiasm of Donald E. Morel Jr. ’79, chairman and CEO, West Pharmaceutical Services Inc., a member of the Board of Trustees, and metallurgical engineering graduate who holds a Ph.D. in materials science and in veterinary medicine from Cornell University.

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