Inaugural Hrabowski Fund for Innovation Grants Announced

By: Magazine Editor
Feb 4, 2013

FROM: Freeman Hrabowski, President, and Philip Rous, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
TO: The UMBC Community
RE: Inaugural Grants from the Hrabowski Fund for Innovation

We are delighted to announce the projects receiving inaugural grants from this fund. These projects build on our faculty’s strong track record of, and commitment to, reimagining what it means to teach and learn. We received a large number of outstanding applications and, unfortunately, could not fund all of the projects. Those selected for awards represent each of our colleges and a wide range of disciplines, and many of them take an interdisciplinary approach to their work.


The Math Gym – A team led by Nagaraj Neerchal, professor and chair of mathematics and statistics, will develop The Math Gym, which will feature “conditioning coaches” and “personal trainers” who will help students keep their foundational math skills in good working order. Moreover, the gym will promote healthy math habits among all our students, drawing a clear analogy between the regular work outs and conditioning needed to maintain both athletic and mathematical skill.

Active Computing Teaching and InnoVation Environment – A team led by Marie desJardins, professor of computer science and electrical engineering, will create ACTIVE, a dynamic “laptop laboratory.” The lab will support innovation in computing courses – with a particular focus on improving the retention and success of women, underrepresented minorities and transfer students. The laboratory will extend active-learning environments, such as CASTLE and the new English writing labs, to a new area of the university.


The Wisdom Institute – A team led by Craig Saper, professor and director of UMBC’s language, literacy, and culture program, will create an institute to expand the role for emeritus professors at UMBC.

Putting Students’ Language Skills to Work – A team led by Susanne Sutton, lecturer in modern languages, linguistics, and intercultural communication, will develop new experiential and service-learning course requirements for undergraduates studying German, with a particular focus on connecting students to Baltimore’s German community.

Service-Learning in Statics – A team led by Anne Spence, professor of the practice in mechanical engineering, will develop new service-learning requirements for undergraduates studying mechanical engineering, with a particular focus on identifying components that increase retention and student success.

EHS – Bruce Walz, professor and chair of emergency health services, will lead a project to integrate individual cameras into EHS exercises, so that students can receive more personalized and immediate feedback on their performance.

Begun with major grants from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Heinz Awards, the Innovation Fund has benefited from substantial support from alumni and friends, the local community and businesses, and State and national leaders. That support is a testament to the work we’ve already done and a vote of confidence for the national model we’re continuing to build. Projects supported by the Innovation Fund will complement the many other creative and enterprising initiatives already underway at UMBC – from the STEM Transfer Student Success Initiative to composition course redesign in English – and will build on our strong history of finding novel approaches to teaching and scholarship.

The competition for the next round of Innovation Fund grants is underway, with proposals due by Friday, February 8. For more information on how to apply, click here. We want to thank everyone who has submitted a proposal, and encourage those whose proposals could not be funded in the first round to apply again.

We are truly inspired by the creative ideas we hear each day and are delighted to be able to support more of them through this fund.

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