Innovators Academy expands to Edgecombe County

Teaching assistant Amy Schlosser works with student Mandi Bass to develop a product for the Innovators Academy. (Contributed photo)


East Carolina University took a popular on-campus summer program on the road this summer. The Middle School Innovators Academy, which teaches innovation and creative thinking through design, debuted at West Edgecombe Elementary in Edgecombe County June 25 through July 9.

Eight students attended the two-week academy, where they learned practical sketching techniques, 2-D and 3-D digital imaging, model building, presentation, marketing and patent research. Supported by faculty and students in ECU’s School of Art and Design and NCSU’s College of the Design, academy participants developed ideas for innovative patent-worthy products.

Dr. J. Ted Morris, associate vice chancellor of the Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development at ECU, said the expansion into a neighboring school district was aimed at introducing “a culture of creativity and entrepreneurship” to the county with an ultimate goal of boosting the economy.

“It was a positive experience for the faculty and teaching assistants working with the talented middle school students of Edgecombe County,” said Wayne Godwin, co-director of the academy.

The academy is a collaboration between art and design programs at ECU and NCSU, ECU’s Innovation Design Lab, and Pitt and Wake County public schools. The North Carolina Upper Coastal Plains Learning Council coordinated the Edgecombe County public schools connection with the academy.

The award-winning academy took first place last year at the University Economic Development Association’s 2011 Awards for Excellence national competition, acknowledging excellence in talent development. For additional information about the academy, or ECU’s Office of Engagement, Innovation and Economic Development, contact Dee D. Harper at or visit


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