What are we teaching and how?


The Academy has adopted Design Thinking to teach creativity and innovation and Lean Startup to teach entrepreneurship.  These two methodologies both involve experiential, discovery-based learning where students seek out, interview, and observe real people in the field to gain insights and learn the nuances of real-world problems and needs.  Then students quickly and iteratively test many concepts, learning from ones that work and more importantly from ones that fail, until they ultimately begin to reach innovative solutions.


The University of Maryland infuses its core curriculum with innovation and entrepreneurship. The Academy builds upon the strong foundation of existing I&E courses across all 12 schools and colleges by working with faculty and existing programs to embed design thinking and lean startup modules into courses or completely redesign courses.  Altogether, there are 141 I&E courses taught by 103 faculty representing 34 departments at UMD.  View a full listing of UMD I&E courses.

What are Fearless Ideas Courses?

Fearless Ideas Fortune Teller

These are new or revised experiential courses related to innovation or entrepreneurship that provide students with opportunities to exercise their innovation muscles to develop and launch their fearless ideas in a variety of different fields & disciplines.  We take a broader view of what innovation is, so Fearless Ideas courses are not just about starting businesses.  The goal of Fearless Idea courses is to  develop innovators who will have the skills, tools, and mindset necessary to tackle and solve the world’s toughest challenges.  A full listing of Fearless Ideas courses can be found here: (Faculty members interested in collaborating with the Academy should see the AIE Faculty Guide).

Experience a Fearless Ideas Course

Creativity for Innovators and Entrepreneurs Outdoor Edition: This revolutionary new course sends students into the wild to collaborate and design the next generation of outdoor gear. Testing in the field helps gain consumer insights and prove feasibility of the idea. 3D printers and scanners help morph initial crude prototypes into real-world gear that is demonstrated to Bass Pro Shops executives.
The Innovo Scholars program pairs instructors with elite students to innovate Smith School offerings. Innovos provide consulting services to faculty by applying design thinking and agile development to identify and implement course/program refinements or redesigns. Student learn from practicing management consultants and meet with business, government, and University leaders to innovate courses.

Beyond Campus

UMD has joined forces with other pioneers at the intersection of design thinking and lean startup to teach teams how to solve big challenges in higher education, public health, and social justice.


“All faculty who engage in research/funded activities should know this.”  -NSF I-Corps Participant 

UMD is one of only seven universities in the country to be selected as a lead university in NSF’s prestigious I-Corps Node program, a key part of the White House Strategy for American Innovation. The seven I-Corps nodes link together over 50 U.S. universities with established entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to introduce researchers to lean startup tools and concepts that help them better connect their research to problems and needs in the marketplace.

If you’re a researcher at UMD, come to the next Intro to I-Corps workshop, a campus-wide program jointly offered by AIE, OTC, Mtech, and Dingman. Click here to learn more or register for the next workshop.

Executive Education & Customized Innovation Workshops

The Academy runs an Innovation Boot Camp workshop and program for clients like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services IDEA Lab and the U.S. Department of Justice Concept Lab that combines lean startup with design thinking to help teams from those organizations advance their innovation projects. Contact us if you’d like to run one of these workshops or innovation programs for your organization.