ACAD475, The Garage Experience, is the capstone course in the Iovine Young Academy for Arts, Technology, and the Business of Innovation.

A capstone course serves as the culminating and usually integrative experience of an educational program. For students in the Academy, it is an opportunity to spend the better part of their senior year working intensely on a self-initiated individual or team project. Some projects will focus on one of the Academy's component areas - technology, design, or business - but all are expected to allow students to demonstrate skill sets that draw on all three.

Some projects will build on work done earlier in the student's education and the Garage Experience will be to see an idea through prototyping, testing, and the launching of a new venture. Other projects will represent the first steps in an entrepreneurial journey, applying skills honed in the Academy to a brand new problem or branching out in an entirely new approach to solving an old one. Some projects will be big and audacious. Others compact and focused.

But no matter which type of Garage project students choose, the course be an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of skills learned to date. Skills like

  1. Identifying signifiant human problems worth solving.
  2. Assessing those problems and potential solutions in terms of desirability, feasibility, and sustainability
  3. Conducting research on user needs, technology, markets, and contextual constraints
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data generated by that research
  5. Communicating effectively using a range of media
  6. Creating high and low resolution prototypes using an array of tools
  7. Generating a viable business plan
  8. Managing a project from concept to roll out.

This eight unit class meets twice a week for four "academic hours" - from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm. Per standard university policy, the expectation is that students will put in an additional 16 hours per week on their Garage Experience project.

The class sessions for the course come in five types

Some classes will be instructional workshops on topics such as

  • Milestones, Meetings, and Mentors
  • Project Management, Objectives, and Key Results
  • Empathy Research And Documentation
  • Market Research: Back to Basics
  • Framing and Reframing
  • From Problems To Solutions
  • On Materials

Twice during the semester each member will have her project "workshopped" by the rest of the class - a full hour with some of the most creative minds around focusing on your ideas.

At each milestone, each team will have a rigorous review of objectives and key results (OKRs) with project manager/advisor.

And the fourth type of class session will be presentations by members of the class, guest speakers, and "popIn" lecturers on topics requested by members of the class.

The calendar for the semester will be built around 5 generic milestones.

  1. Start(ing) Up (week 2)
  2. The Problem, Version 0.2 (week 5)
  3. Deliverable 0 (week 9)
  4. The Countdown Begins and The Bell Lap (weeks 11-13)
  5. Looking Back/Looking Ahead (week 15)

The course plan will specify default versions of these project milestones; your first assignment, due at milestone 1, will be to re-negotiate these with your project advisor based on your project. In addition the deliverables associated with these milestones, individual classes and workshops will require the production of documents or artifacts or the carrying out of exercises.

With up to 30 different simultaneous projects going on in the fast-paced environment of the Garage, individual and collective project management and community coordination skills will be put to the test. The entire class will be structured along the lines of an innovation factory - think Alphabet's X or Bell Labs or Xerox PARC - with each student or team project as one of the company's endeavors. The instructor of record for the course will be a sort of CEO of this entity and faculty advisors will be consulting project managers.

Class activities and customized timetable will keep all the projects moving forward. To keep ourselves accountable and to provide socialization in professional skills, members will report "billable hours" to their team each week and manage their project's virtual "burn rate" throughout the semester.

With the Garage Experience we aspire to challenge you to go places you wouldn't go without it. We want to help you zero in on a problem worth solving and to set you on the path to finding a creative solution that can make a dent in the world.