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Spring 2012 – INNO 460 Accepting Applications


If you are a student in the School of Engineering and are interested in applying to be a part of INNO 460 this spring. Fill out and submit the application below by Wednesday, November 23.

We have two confirmed project sponsors for the spring da Vinci Center Project, and additional project sponsors pending approval The confirmed projects are as follows:

Spring 2012

Dominion — continue work on developing a hydrokinetics system to power the Science Museum’s Rice House, as well as design an exhibit for Museum visitors.

MeadWestvaco — work to create and innovative package design. (product TBD)

*more projects will be added as they are finalized

Students interested in INNO 460, please check out THE WORK for more information and to download the course application.

Contact Seth Caskey, with any questions.

Fall 2011 INNO 460 – Accepting Applications

We have three confirmed project sponsors for the fall da Vinci project and two confirmed project sponsors for the spring semester. The projects are as follows:

Fall 2011:
Baby Jogger — improve a dual baby jogger design so that it is more usable and easier to manufacture
Dominion — examine the feasibility of using hydrokinetics to power the Science Museum’s Rice House and design a solution
Dynamic Brands — apply technology that has been newly acquired by the company to redesign and improve the standard golf bag

At the present time, we have 14 accepted students in fall’s INNO 460 course. To accommodate all three projects, we are looking for three additional students for the fall. We are particularly in need of at least 1 Business student and 2 Engineering students.Please go to “THE WORK” page for more information on INNO 460 and to download the application,

Contact Dr. Kenneth Kahn,, with any questions.

Introducing our Master of Product Innovation

Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU’s ) da Vinci Center for Innovation received approval from the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) this past Tuesday, March 22, for a Master of Product Innovation (MPI).   The 30 credit hour program is a unique cross-disciplinary master’s program focused on product innovation in the Commonwealth.  It is the first Master of Product Innovation in the United States.

A collaboration of VCU’s Schools of the Arts, Business, and Engineering, the MPI embraces and equally covers subjects across these three schools via a comprehensive and integrative curriculum.  The program culminates with a hands-on, yearlong master project to synthesize learning in the program and give students a real product innovation experience by having them develop a real product.  The program defines product broadly to encompass many types of offering, including service and idea offerings.

The introduction of this program is timely as much attention has focused on the importance of innovation to future economic prosperity.  There is a particular interest in having universities instill the spirit of innovation among students and faculty.  VCU’s MPI serves this purpose by building on student’s undergraduate degree to advance understanding and competence in the product innovation area.  The program emphasizes how to function as an effective team member and be a team leader for cross-functional teams.  An end objective is to create “T-shaped people,” which portrays individuals as deep in one disciplinary area (e.g., arts, business, or engineering) and augmented with broad knowledge of all aspects of product innovation activity. The comprehensive program prides itself on delivering a practical, hands-on experience so that students upon graduation can immediately fill positions as leading product innovators.

Overseeing the MPI program is VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation.  The aims of the da Vinci Center are three-fold: (1) prepare students to enter a product innovation career; (2) catalyze innovation through collaboration among the disciplines of the Arts, Business, and Engineering; and (3) serve as a resource for advancing interdisciplinary innovation and technology-based entrepreneurship.  Through the da Vinci Center, the MPI program will develop individuals who can join organizations and spur an innovation culture through product innovation initiatives.

Dr. Kenneth Kahn, Director of the VCU da Vinci Center looks forward to launching the new program in 2011-2012 academic year.  “We are very excited to offer this unique program.  Students enrolling in this program will receive a very enthralling educational experience that when completed will provide graduates with clearer purpose and ability to deliver on product innovation.”

For more information on the Master of Product Innovation, refer to the da Vinci Center website at

You may also contact Dr. Kenneth Kahn at

SCHEV Approves Masters program!

The State Council for Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) approved the da Vinci Center’s Master of Product Innovation program yesterday.

Jacob Lutz, SCHEV board member and a member of SCHEV’s academic affaris committee, said what was most impressive was the passion and collaborative nature of how VCU’s representatives acted.  Lutz continued to say that VCU appeared to be “truly committed from the heart.”

That Master of Product Innovation will launch it’s first class of students in January 2012. 

More information will be available on our website soon.

Center Highlighted in University Greeting

The VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation is highlighted in the VCU 2010 Season’s Greeting video. 

Check it out!

VCU 2010 Holiday Greeting

Behind-the-Scenes of InnoBlitz (Fall 2010)

[pro-player width=’530′ height=’253′ type=’video’][/pro-player]

On Friday, September 17 to Saturday, September 18, an interdisciplinary team of students from the da Vinci Center participated in InnoBlitz at the Science Museum of Virginia.

At 4:00 p.m. on Friday, the students were given the topic of the Chilean Mine Collapse, and challenged to create a working exhibit around the topic in 24-hours.  The team worked hard all night and all day, and unveiled an exhibit at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Students from VCU’s da Vinci Center draw a crowd with innovative exhibit


Thirty-three Chilean miners are trapped approximately 2,500 feet underground.

They are receiving food, water and other essentials through a 4-inch supply pipe.

Tell their story.

Interpret it so that our guests can appreciate the science, the technology and the human interest.

Here’s $500 for materials.

You’ve got 24 hours.

It starts now.

And so began a largely sleepless, pressure-packed marathon for six students from VCU’s da Vinci Center for Innovation at the Science Museum of Virginia.

Even before the deadline at 4 p.m. this past Saturday, Science Museum Director Richard Conti declared the project a success as museum visitors – especially children – began drifting toward the dark, foreboding shaft that sprouted from the museum’s floor.  

“Awesome,” said 10-year-old Michael Kahn, son of Kenneth Kahn, Ph.D., director of the da Vinci Center, evaluating the project through the eyes of an elementary school student.

Conti expects the same reaction from most who view the plywood shaft, which is surrounded by gray boulders made from newspapers and spray paint.

Kahn said the shaft, approximately 4 feet by 4 feet, represents the incredibly small living space available to each Chilean miner. The miners have been trapped underground since an Aug. 5 mine collapse, and feverish efforts are under way to rescue them.

Nelofar Anwari, a marketing major in the VCU School of Business, said the da Vinci team had a target audience of children for their project.

“Kids learn more by interacting with what they have, by touching it and feeling it,” she said. “We wanted them to know what it feels like to be in a mine.”

Kahn said that creating the project was an exercise in team-building with a creative twist.

“We wanted something that would provide a sense of urgency and put students in a situation in which they would have to innovate in a quick time,” he said.

The da Vinci team included School of Business students such as Anwari, students from the School of the Arts and students with blended backgrounds that included engineering.

All contributed skills acquired both from their majors and from life experiences.

Vinita Phonseya, an interior design major, created the layout for the structure.

That followed a team brainstorming session to identify what their project would be and the elements that would attract the largest number of visitors.

Phonseya and Cosima Storz, a painting and printmaking major, supervised other team members in cutting boards to frame the shaft.

Marketing major Megan Jacobs helped create the timeline that would inform museum visitors about the miners’ ordeal. But because she was a former art student, she also stepped in to do some spray painting.

“It was kind of interesting to see what roles people were playing outside their majors,” Jacobs said, noting that she and others pitched in to help Corey Grunewald,  a kinetic imaging major, who led the team in developing the exhibit’s graphics.

Colin Hannifin, an accounting major, reiterated Jacobs’ point that a team member’s major wasn’t the critical factor in his or her contributions.

“We all have skill sets,” Hannifin said. “Some of us are really good at woodworking, some of us are really good at designing, some at imaging, some critical thinking. All of our sets combined to make this project succeed the way it has,” he said.

Most of the daVinci team members slept only an hour or two during the 24-hour project; and Hannifin and Grunewald pulled all-nighters.

The daVinci Center hopes to start every forthcoming semester with a project like the mine shaft that combines teamwork, innovation, a tight time frame and a surprise assignment with real-world relevance.

“It’s been a great 24 hours,” Kahn said, as he and the team searched for another boost of caffeine.

Inno 460 – Fall 2010

Our student teams will be working with Alfa Laval and the State of Virginia this semester!  Check out The Work > Current Projects for more information!!!

InnoBlitz Fall 2010

Implementing Innovation in 24 Hours

On Saturday, September 18, an interdisciplinary team of students from the VCU da Vinci Center will be participating in a 24-hour InnoBlitz at the Science Museum of Virginia.  Beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning, the students w

ill be given a topic inspired by current events.  With a budget of $500, the students must develop the topic into a working exhibit to be revealed Sunday morning.

For more information, please contact Lisa Crawford,


Our New Website!

Welcome to our new website!  We’ll be updating it frequently.

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