We bring UIC together through interdisciplinary innovation and education.

We define innovation as bringing together existing technologies in novel ways to support unmet needs. Innovation is applied and solves problems.

Students working in interdisciplinary teams in labs at the Innovation Center.

Our work is collaborative and interdisciplinary. Within classes and labs, we provide tools for all UIC students to learn design thinking methods and apply them through experiential learning with corporate and university partners.

Partner History

Our partners range within a variety of industries and have unique needs. Interdisciplinary teams come together to fit the needs of our partners and solve for them through our innovation process.

Take a tour of the Innovation Center

Innovation is extraordinarily non-linear

The innovation process may appear very step-by-step. In reality, it’s a gritty, ambiguous, leap-of-faith activity. The process of innovation leads one to unexpected places and yields unanticipated results.

Our design thinking process: Diverging to include a broad range of ideas, and converging to hone in on the best insight or idea to move forward into the next phase.

Our design process diagram showing our 3 phases of development: research & analysis, ideation & concept building, and prototyping & testing.

What’s not shown in this diagram is the back and forth non-linear reality between and within the phases. Solution-building is a messy process, with lots of ambiguity built in along the way.

Students in class at the Innovation Center and a student showing his prototype of a safety vest to faculty.

Experiential learning with corporate sponsors in classes and labs at the Innovation Center gives students the opportunity to put into practice skills they learn specific to their discipline in conjunction with an interdisciplinary team.

Interdisciplinary (X) Development

IXD is a curriculum focused on interdisciplinary innovation to enable UIC students to develop novel concepts and prototype solutions. Students practice their skills in an educational hybrid: the exploratory setting of a classroom with the real-world experience of working with a corporate sponsor.

  • About I(X)D

    Our classes apply innovation to a variety of problem areas—products, services, systems, and experiences. X represents any one of these problem areas, depending on our sponsor’s domain. We teach design thinking methods, collaborative working, and how to perform within ambiguous conditions.

  • Sponsor Benefits

    Students provide fresh perspectives and are unencumbered by traditional mindsets. Multidisciplinary teams deliver human-centered views on entrenched problems, hypothesize solutions, build interventions, and test them with stakeholders. The broad range of solutions from five to six multidisciplinary teams is the point of value for our sponsors.

  • Student Learning Outcomes

    I(X)D is unlike any other class at UIC. We bring together engineering, business, and design into multidisciplinary teams to experience the full range of problem solving. Design thinking is a structured approach that provides definition to the process of innovation. Our teaching method is experiential, and students learn by conducting user research and testing in the field.

Executive Training

Through a range of executive training workshops, the Innovation Center introduces practitioners to our design thinking process and guides them through the innovation development cycle. We offer a range of executive training courses from an introduction, to application, and immersive experiences.

  • Introduction (Small)

    One-day and three-day workshops that introduce participants to the design thinking process.

  • Application (Medium)

    A six-week course that introduces participants to the design thinking process and allows them to practice new methods by applying them to needs within their organization.

  • Immersion (Large)

    An immersive six month design thinking partnership custom designed to fulfill the objectives of the partner. This provides an in-depth, hands-on experience with the application of new methods and tools.

Participants in an executive training workshop working in groups with sticky notes, brainstorming ideas on a board.



Open Positions

The Innovation Center hires UIC graduate and undergraduate students to work in our labs that run all year round. Students typically work 15 hours per week during the academic year, and up to 35 hours per week over the summer. We hire all disciplines, and seek students who are curious, motivated, eager to work with other disciplines, and want hands-on practice in innovation methods. We work on problems involving social issues, medical devices, digital analytics, machine learning, information design, product design, and service design.


Send your CV to us at UICInnovationCenter@uic.edu.

Innovation Center Faculty and Staff

Kwabena Ankobiah

Human-Centered Designer – Project Lab

Don Bergh

Associate Director of Labs and Educational Programs

Anthony Felder

Orbit Lab Director, Clinical Assistant Professor

Charles Frisbie

IXD Director, MAD Lab Director, OSF Lab Director, Urology Lab Director, Orbit Lab Director, Adjunct Lecturer

Mark Hallenbeck

Cat Lab Director, OSF Lab Director, 10G Lab Director, Lecturer

Yannek Leiderman

Associate Professor and Physician Surgeon

Christian Luciano

Orbit Lab Director, Urology Lab Director, Research Assistant Professor

Stephen Melamed

IXD Associate Director, Clinical Professor

Craig Niederberger

Professor, Head of Urology and Physician Surgeon

Peter Pfanner

Executive Director, UIC Innovation Center, Research Professor

Alexandra Spiroff

Human-Centered Designer – Project Lab

Sarah Stewart de Ramirez

OSF Lab Advisor, Associate Professor

Susan Stirling

OSF Lab Director, Adjunct Associate Professor

Tracie Thompson

Human-Centered Designer – Project Lab

John Vozenilek

OSF Lab Advisor, Clinical Professor and Physician Surgeon

Kimberlee Wilkens

Orbit Lab Director, Mad Lab Director, Urology Lab Director, Assistant Professor

Michael Young

Urology Lab Director, Visiting Research Assistant Professor

UIC Partners

Michael Amiridis

Chancellor, University of Illinois at Chicago

Michael Mikhail

Dean of College of Business Administration

Mike Pagano

Dean of College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs

Janet Parker

Associate Chancellor, Budget and Financial Administration

Suseelan Pookote

Director, Office of Technology Management

Mark Rosenblatt

Dean of College of Medicine, Professor and Physician Surgeon

Tom Royston

Professor, Head of Department of Bioengineering

Rebecca Rugg

Dean of College of Architecture, Design and Arts

Bob Slone

Professor, Head of Department of Computer Science

Jay Walsh

Interim Vice President for Economic Development and Innovation