IPRO 2.0: the Next Generation of the IPRO Experience

IIT’s strategic plan includes enhancement of the IPRO course as the next generation of the IPRO experience, referred to as IPRO 2.0. The aim is to assure that all IIT students who complete their general education IPRO requirement are prepared and able to perform as members of a high-performance team, engaging in open-ended problem solving and inspired collaborative innovation.

This has inspired us to prototype and test a new, tandem model for IPRO courses in fall 2010 and spring 2011. The tandem model idea transforms the current six-credit-hour IPRO requirement into a progressive, two-phase sequence to 1) build competency and skills, 2) form passionate and balanced teams, and 3) offer greater time over the span of more than one semester for the same team to comprehensively address a problem or objective.

The first phase, IPRO I: Interprofessional by Design, develops insight and practical experience in team formation, project planning, design thinking, prototyping, and collaborative innovation. The second phase, IPRO II: Comprehensive Project, focuses on implementing the project.


IPRO I: Interprofessional by Design

This inaugural course is the first semester of a two-semester sequence. It is only open to students taking their first IPRO course. Students enrolling in this course will be expected to complete the sequence in the following semester via an IPRO II: Comprehensive Project.

What is IPRO I?

The IPRO I: Interprofessional by Design course is envisioned as a prerequisite for IPRO II: Comprehensive Project course. The IPRO I course is an immersive, action-oriented, dynamic learning experience guided by a team of instructors from the fields of design, engineering, business, law, architecture, psychology and social sciences. IPRO I introduces students to the interprofessional project concept and its underlying body of knowledge by:

  • incorporating hands-on, small group, user-centered design projects informed by instructor-lead discussions and guest speakers;
  • stimulating and facilitating project idea development that involves a collaborative innovation process;
  • developing an understanding of the socio-economic context of themed clusters of workplace project possibilities (e.g., venture development, service learning, process improvement, sustainability, research); and
  • forming the core of an IPRO II team and developing its project plan.

Can you tell me more about IPRO I?

Currently under development with input from faculty and students, the IPRO I semester is expected to encompass the following stages:

Stage 1: acquiring design thinking and skills. Interactive discussions guided by a team of faculty from across IIT’s colleges and guest speakers will inspire students to grasp the fundamentals of design thinking and learn critical skills required to be successful in project-oriented, high performance team activities. Students will be immersed in high energy training and development experience through hands-on, individual and small group activities that accelerate learning and performance. Students will maintain an IPRO Log Book during IPRO I that develops best practices in documenting ideas, methods, tools and other insights that offer a personal reference during the IPRO II Comprehensive Project.

Stage 2: understanding context, defining problems and identifying opportunities. Students will be introduced to the socio-economic context of various themed project clusters (e.g., service learning and outreach, process improvement, sustainability, new ventures, research/design/development, international engagement) and be challenged to develop ideas within the clusters that lead to a competitive proposal for consideration as an IPRO II Comprehensive Project. The principles of user-centered design and opportunity analysis will be put into practice during this stage and a spirit of collaborative innovation across disciplines will be fostered.

Stage 3: developing and promoting an idea. Students will undertake the research needed to further validate an idea and refine their communications skills by preparing a written opportunity assessment, a brochure, a poster and an elevator pitch. Ideas may emerge from students’ own thinking and investigation, as well as ideas offered by any IIT faculty member, alum or external organization. The ideas will be evaluated by students and faculty, with the best of these ideas becoming candidates for consideration and initial development as a IPRO II Comprehensive Project in Stage 4.

Stage 4: building a core team and planning the IPRO II project. Students will have a “funnel” full of project possibilities to consider for the IPRO II Comprehensive Project). These projects include candidates selected in Stage 3, pre-screened projects from external sponsors and community partners, and IPRO II projects already underway that will continue and need a new team. Based on the need for their discipline or background, students may join a student-created project or one of the other available projects. The IPRO II core team that is formed will then further “shape” the project to the specific background, skills, experience and passion of its members. Once formed, these IPRO II core teams will draft and refine their project plans for the next semester and are expected to continue as core members of next semester’s IPRO II teams. Project plans will be judged at the conclusion of the semester in the IPRO Day format. Project planning, organization and teambuilding skills will be emphasized.

The following learning objectives are being refined for the IPRO I course to prepare students for IPRO II:

  • Understanding and application of design thinking and the ideation process (Problem Definition-Research-Analysis-Synthesis-Realization/Prototyping) as well as other professional problem solving techniques, frameworks and tools
  • Development and strengthening of multidisciplinary team building and teamwork practices
  • Effective use of verbal, written, and visual communication methods
  • Awareness of Complex Problem-Solving Issues (economic, marketing, ethical, social, environmental, political, etc) and how to consider them
  • Development and strengthening of team leadership and project management practices
  • Awareness and application of opportunity assessment and user-centered design practices

Is IPRO I for me?

IPRO I appeals to students who crave hands-on experience, learning how to apply user-centered design, and the opportunity to innovate in a collaborative team environment. IPRO I may be viewed as the team-oriented applied project course complement to the highly-regarded IIT Leadership Academy experience.

Students who enroll in the inaugural IPRO I sections (IPRO 497-300 and IPRO 497-301) will be pioneers and innovation partners with faculty, staff and sponsoring organizations in developing the next generation of IPRO experience. Our experience with IPRO I and then IPRO II will give us the insight to scale up and complete the transformation of the IPRO Program.

What are the registration basics for IPRO I?

For convenience, the prototype IPRO I course uses the same IPRO course designation, IPRO 397-01 and IPRO 397-02, as we have used for regular IPRO courses. The IPRO I course was first offered in fall 2010 and will continued to be offered in the spring 2011 semester for students taking their first IPRO course. The IPRO 397 sections will each include up to 50 students and will be open to all majors. Each section is offered as a double session once a week in order to provide more time for group breakout work sessions, guest speakers, etc. For more information on the schedule for IPRO I courses, visit the Future Projects page.

IPRO 397-01 and 397-02 are identical but offered at different times to accommodate different student schedules. Students who complete the IPRO I course can then take a new IPRO II course with the same team they formed in IPRO I and execute its project plan in the following semester. Taken in sequence, IPRO I and IPRO II will satisfy the current two-IPRO course requirement.


IPRO II: Comprehensive Project

It is envisioned that there will be a common day/time for all IPRO II sections in order to allow an IPRO I core team to remain intact. There may be circumstances that lead to IPRO II teams losing a member or two and/or adding new members, but the core team and plan will be in place at the beginning of the IPRO II course. The IPRO II team is expected to have on the order of 10 members.


For further information, students interested in this new IPRO I course or those who would like more information about IPRO 2.0 are encouraged to contact Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Mike Gosz (gosz@iit.edu), IPRO Senior Lecturer Jim Braband (braband@iit.edu), Lead IPRO I Instructor and Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering David Gatchell (dgatchel@iit.edu), or Managing Director of Interprofessional Programs Tom Jacobius (jacobius@iit.edu).