Lovell returns to classroom to teach class on innovation, creativity

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Lovell returns to classroom to teach class on innovation, creativity

University president Michael Lovell talks with his students Monday night at the 707 Hub.

University president Michael Lovell talks with his students Monday night at the 707 Hub.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

University president Michael Lovell talks with his students Monday night at the 707 Hub.

Photo by Jordan Johnson

Photo by Jordan Johnson

University president Michael Lovell talks with his students Monday night at the 707 Hub.

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For Josh Schneider, a “super senior” in the College of Engineering, there’s something different about his class Product Realization and who teaches it.

One of the co-professors happens to be the president of the university. For the first time since arriving at Marquette University in 2014, University President Michael Lovell is back in the classroom. The class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-7:30 p.m. 

“I’m really enjoying the course and being back with the students,” Lovell said. “Even though people look at me as a president or administrator … the thing I miss the most is actually being in the classroom and having that one-on-one personal interaction with the students.”

As Lovell balances being president of the university with teaching, he has some help. Lovell co-teaches the class with Alex Francis, a senior engineer at Milwaukee-based manufacturing company Rexnord and an adjunct professor at UWM and Marquette.

The class is a mix of engineering and communication students and has “an entrepreneurial nature.”

“We’re trying to help students in the innovation process,” Lovell said. “It’s very important for them when they graduate to be creative and be innovative.”

Lovell said he worked with Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to see what they’re doing to develop the innovation process.

Lovell said the students in the class develop a real product sponsored by a corporation.

“It’s not only learning the process, but it’s also doing hands-on experiential learning with it as well,” Lovell said.

Students work in groups to develop and market products. Schneider’s group is developing a water filtration product for showers with AO Smith that is more “aesthetically pleasing.”

The class also welcomes people from the industry. James McKenna is an industry adviser for the class and works at HUSCO International. He will attend the class four times per semester but calls in weekly with one of the groups that’s developing a guarding system for HUSCO’s test stand. 

McKenna said Lovell approached HUSCO about being one of the customers for the class.

“We were really interested in seeing the collaborative atmosphere that was going to be fostered in this class,” McKenna said. “We’re really excited to see what the students can bring forward in terms of creative ideas.”

The concept of this class was nothing new to Lovell. He started teaching this class in 2001 while working as an associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh, but he stopped teaching when he became chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2011.

Lovell said his return to the classroom is important to better connect with students and get a greater understanding of changes in how students learn.

“I use a lot of the things I teach in the course in the way I run the university,” Lovell said.

Schneider said it’s evident that Lovell cares about his students, which makes the class more enjoyable.

The class is not new to Francis. He took the class as a student at UWM and then experienced it as a sponsor, teaching assistant and now co-professor. 

“We teach the students in the class really how to unlock that creative mindset,” Francis said. “That applies to engineers. That applies to communication students and art and business.”

Schneider said it has been cool to see other spaces on campus that he might not otherwise see as a mechanical engineering major, like Johnston Hall or the 707 Hub, and work with people he usually wouldn’t work with.

“Normally I’m used to only working with engineers,” Schneider said. “And now I’m with a bunch of communications (and) marketing students, which is really neat and different.”

Lovell said he “definitely plans on teaching again in the future,” but the decision is made on a semester-by-semester basis.

Correction: A previous version of this story stated that the class title was “Broad Realization.” In fact, the class title is “Product Realization.” A previous version of this story also misstated the class time as Mondays from 5-7 p.m. In fact, the class meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 5-7:30 p.m. The Wire regrets these errors.

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