The NPES Innovation Lab prepares students by mentoring them to be curious, creative, and develop a sense of self in the larger community. The Innovation Lab is a space for students to create with purpose and explore how they can design objects to improve the lives of those around them. The Innovation Lab focuses on extending learning that is happening in the classroom by offering tools and guidance to make connections for a specific audience.
Students are guided using a design thinking process to iterate solutions. The process consists of five phases: Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test. The phases are linear to an extent, but through the process, students learn they may need to re-define or do some rapid prototyping to come up with a viable product or solution for the identified opportunity and audience. This process of iteration allows students to dig deeper into course material and understand the community they are trying to help.