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New Innovation Engineering Classroom is a Game Changer

UNA Innovation EngineeringGeneral Management major Cullen Akin says his Innovation Engineering minor is giving him a definite advantage over students in his field. “I had my internship with Hasbro, Inc. this summer,” Cullen says, “And one of the first questions I was asked during my interview was about my Innovative Engineering minor. They seemed impressed with what I was able to tell them about the material we had been exposed to in these classes. I really felt that was one of the most critical points in my interview that got me the internship.”

The classroom has been re-configured and equipped with tables that invite collaboration and group efforts, a key focus of the Innovation Engineering minor, with the instructor sitting in the center of the classroom. Instructor Mitch Hamm has played an integral role in establishing the new design and the program. “Research shows, that regardless of what major, whether it’s engineering or whether it’s liberal arts, that the students with a minor in Innovation Engineering are seeing a thirty-percent premium on their salary when first hired,” Hamm says. “because they’re able to come into an organization with a skill that is rare. Instead of the model where you’ve got somebody fresh out of school and the company assumes, at least for a year, that you won’t be as productive because you’re having to learn practical things, these folks are coming in with an unusual skill, so they can actually start leading and teaching others.”

Cullen’s summer internship at Hasbro, Inc. found him working alongside students from top universities including Yale, Rhode Island School of Design, Tufts, Boston College and Endicott College. “When I was walking in on the first day, I felt just like everyone else. I felt like I was as prepared as they were, but, as time went on, I knew I was making some of them nervous,” Cullen says. “I didn’t wait for tasks to be handed to me, instead I wanted more responsibility every day. I went in with the can-do attitude and I wanted to distinguish myself. Having the experience from my Innovation Engineering classes definitely made a difference. I looked at everything like a problem and I wanted to fix them with something better. I went into every project I did like this and whoever I was working with noticed that I looked for improvement in everything.”

Cullen has said the new classroom arrangement has made all the difference. “It has allowed us to have a proper atmosphere to accomplish what is needed in the classroom. There is so much value behind Innovative Engineering, and it is definitely not meant for your ordinary classroom.”

We invite you to get involved in the Innovation Engineering classes by contacting The College of Business at 256.765.4261.

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