College of the Desert chosen for new statewide initiative

New program highlights invention education

Photo+courtesy+of+College+of+the+Desert.+College+of+the+Desert+Palm+Desert+campus.+The+Student+Services+Center.

Photo courtesy of College of the Desert. College of the Desert Palm Desert campus. The Student Services Center.

College of the Desert is one of only four California community colleges tapped to develop a bold, new pilot program. The goal of the IDEA program (Innovation, Development, Entrepreneurship and Action) is to encourage innovation and invention. This program is designed to address social problems that were present before the COVID-19 pandemic and those that have been created or worsened by the pandemic.

College of the Desert is excited to join the Chancellor’s Office to pilot and shape a bold, new initiative that expands educational opportunities while creating innovative solutions to many of the social problems that are prevalent in our world today. Vice President of Instruction Dr. Annabelle Nery announced to COD staff and faculty. She states, “Our program, named College of the Desert IDEA will include multidiscipline student teams working online, in and out of the classroom, utilizing an open inquiry and problem finding an approach to solving challenges within their communities over the course of six to nine months.”

“Our program, named College of the Desert IDEA will include multidiscipline student teams working online, in and out of the classroom, utilizing an open inquiry and problem finding approach to solve challenges within their communities over the course of six to nine months.””

— Dr. Annabelle Nery, Vice President, Instruction

Three other colleges have been chosen to participate in the program: Modesto Community College, Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga, and Sierra College in Rocklin. College of the Desert faculty and leadership will work with these intuitions to develop a curriculum prototype that will guide students to individual discover and encourage the invention of new products and programs that solve societal problems for the greater good of the community.

The initiative collaborates between the Chancellor’s Office and the Lemelson-MIT Program, modeled after the Lemelson-MIT InvenTeams. The InvenTeams are groups of high school students, educators, and mentors that invent technological solutions to real-world problems. The InvenTeams initiative has taught and provided young people with creative problem-solving skills to enable them to flourish in colleges.

“Having grown up in the Central Valley and attended a California community college, I know first-hand the impact community colleges have on a young person’s life,” said Stephanie Couch, executive director of the Lemelson-MIT Program. “Through the InvenTeam initiative, we have seen the lasting impact the invention experience has on young people from all backgrounds as many students changed the course of their future to pursue STEM college and career pathways. I’m thrilled that we are bringing this experience to California at a time when we need more programs that prepare women and people of color with 21st-century skills to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world.”

Women and communities of color have historically been underrepresented in the innovation and invention economy. COVID-19 has highlighted and augmented this disparity, revealing large segments of the population that have been marginalized. The inclusion of these populations provides valuable insights and perspectives to tackle systemic challenges and needs.

“This initiative aims to spark innovation in every region of the state to address small challenges that impact dozens of people to big challenges that are disrupting the lives of thousands of people,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

Facilitated through our Partnership and Community Education program (PaCE), stipend opportunities will be available to participating faculty in the coming months. Student recruitment for the first COD IDEA cohort will occur later this Summer.

About the Lemelson-MIT Program
The Lemelson-MIT Program celebrates outstanding inventors and inspires young people to pursue creative lives and careers through invention. The program was founded in 1994 by Jerome H. Lemelson, one of U.S. history’s most prolific inventors, and his wife Dorothy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1994. It is funded by The Lemelson Foundation and administered by the School of Engineering at MIT, an institution with a strong ongoing commitment to creating meaningful opportunities for K-12 STEM education.