Innovation Learning Pathways

Never ending project, never ending learning.

What is the ILP Program?

STEMed Labs is where project ideas get translated into actions and outcomes. Students in ILP pursue a self-defined learning path that pertains to their own interests and personal goals. Knowledge is a byproduct that comes naturally when students pursue goals in which they are personally invested. There is an inner innovator waiting to be unleashed in every student, and it is our privilege to be their initiator.

The Value of ILP Program

It takes an innovator to thrive in a world of ever-increasing complexity, where boundless opportunities inevitably emerge. How to channel passion and interest, to identify and ride atop these opportunities requires a set of unique soft skills. Such as:


Do you know how to recognize a problem, even when others might not see it? Do you know how to get a handle on current events and foresee a path that you can take? Do you know how to identify opportunities?

Self Awareness

Do you know your strengths and weaknesses, what you have in abundance and what is lacking, what you know and what you don’t know, which opportunity you should pursue?


Do you have the courage to take a path that may or may not turn out the way you wanted? Do you dare to fail?


Can you empathize with your audience and thus communicate your ideas clearly and incite them to action?

These skills can only be gained through hands on learning experience, coming from completing self defined projects. Projects demand you to complete a concrete objective. You have to call upon all of what you know and search for what you do not know. Honing these skills is a life learning process.

ILP is a unique program with no known equivalent in Central Texas. While not right for everyone, we believe that for students that are motivated and willing to put in the time and effort, this can be a transformational experience. Specific benefits of participating and completing the program include:

  • The opportunity to develop your technical and communication skills in a hands-on manner
  • Networking opportunities with peers as well as industry mentors
  • The chance to define and execute on an idea you care about as well as showcase the final results
  • All participants that successfully deliver a final presentation will be eligible for exclusive programs in the future for ILP participants

A Closer Look at ILP

ILP program is designed for motivated students that want to pursue self-defined learning objectives. By supporting these individuals with the proper structure and mentoring, our goal is to help them unleash their innovative capabilities in a way that cannot be accomplished in the classroom.This is a “learn by doing” exercise that will help participants understand what it takes to move from theory to practice. Accepted participants will commit to pursuing a semester long initiative. They will be guided during the semester through weekly sessions with an assigned facilitator as well as mentor calls with industry volunteers. However, a key aspect of the program is that the bulk of the “real work” will happen outside of these sessions. As part of the program we will help participants manage their projects through a process that combines elements of agile and lean methodologies. The program will culminate with a final presentation to an audience of peers, mentors, and community members.

Many have exciting visions, few can enunciate them clearly.

Each student will receive guidance from multiple mentors, hailing from different sectors of the industry. Mentors help students to dive deep, discover their passions, and communicate their vision clearly. Aligning with their vision, students come up with their own ideas for projects that they want to achieve.

Everyone has great plans, few can execute them without practice and support.

Along the way, the mentors will continually help students to stay on track by guiding them on how to form an overall plan and break it down into concrete tasks that can be achieved with measurable results. Mentors also offer technical advice, helping students bridge the gap in their technical knowledge.

Steel Sharpens Steel

It’s never fun doing it alone. Students can work in teams or individually. Regardless of which they choose, they are always together as a cohort, where knowledge transfer occurs, ideas are bounced off each other, and inspirations crosses stream.

Projects and Pathways

Our goal with the ILP program is to help students become owners of real problems they feel exist in the world and need to be solved. Our Innovation Challenge Problems provide examples of the types of challenges we hope students will strive to address, but in general student projects may target any domain as long as:

  • The problem is authentically interesting to the student
  • The path towards towards solving that problem intersects with a STEM discipline

Depending on the background and goals of the student, we ask applicants to categorize their project into one of three pathways:

  1. Research / discovery – Learn more about a specific topic / domain so that the student can apply that knowledge later through an invention or entrepreneurship pathway. (Example: Pursue a specific subtopics AI or molecular biology)
  2. Engineering / invention – Learn and apply specific skills through a tangible “build” project (e.g. an application, physical prototype, etc.)
  3. Entrepreneurship – Validate and develop a business idea

Our project pathways are defined in a manner that allows students to cycle through in a continuous innovation learning loop that may last multiple semesters / years. We strive to help support students throughout their journey, and help them gain the experiences which will prove invaluable whether their future career goals align with driving fundamental research or launching STEM based business ventures.

The project can occupy any swath of the spectrum of the pathway cycle.

Program Details

  • Where will activities occur?: The program will require that students have the ability to commute to facilitation sessions at the Capital Factory (701 Brazos St, Austin, TX 78701) as well as call-in to virtual sessions with mentors/facilitators via Google Hangouts.
  • How much does it cost?: There will be a program fee of $250 for participants (partial scholarships available based on financial need). Any supplies required for the student defined project will be the responsibility of the student to provide.
  • How do I apply?: The first step of the process includes submitting an online application using the link below. Other relevant phases/dates can be found in the table below.
  • Who is eligible?
    • You are a student that will be at least in 8th grade or 13 years old as of fall 2017.
    • You are able and willing to spend at least 10 hours a week dedicated to your project.
      • NOTE: Participants must attend weekly facilitation sessions on Mondays (7pm-9pm) and in addition be available for one-hour mentor calls each week.

Application Phase



  • Application open
  • Submit your online application to be considered for live interviews.
  • Applications open on August 14th
  • Applicants must submit in time to complete interviews by September 12th
  • Interview stage
  • Selected applicants will be invited to the interview stage of the process.
  • All interviews must complete by September 12th
  • Final Selection
  • Applicants notified of final decisions.
  • Final notifications will be sent out no later than September 15th
  • Cohort kickoff
  • Initial kickoff meeting.
  • Week of September 18th
  • ILP semester event
  • Final presentations
  • December 9th (Saturday)

Unleash Your Inner Innovator!

Join our fall 2017 ILP cohort!

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