The Distinction in Innovation is a special recognition awarded at graduation to those students who have demonstrated notable achievements in the fields of technology and innovation by completing targeted coursework and a series of independent projects. 

Each student will finish the program with an impressive portfolio of projects tailored to display their passion, skills, and work products to potential colleges or employers. In addition, students will earn a distinction on their transcript.

Dawson aims to honor students who think creatively, pursue opportunities to solve problems in new ways, and continuously endeavour to expand their knowledge across a wide array of subject matters.  Students pursuing the Distinction in Innovation will:

  • Go above and beyond the scope of assigned class work by expanding upon in-class projects and develop meaningful learning opportunities that enrich their learning.
  • Learn to use the tools and resources available on campus and in the community to identify and solve problems.
  • Take on new challenges that require students to guide their own learning in order to gain the skills necessary to successfully complete the task at hand.
  • Think creatively and foster their intellectual curiosity
  • Develop flexibility and resilience in their problem solving process by embracing setbacks and using them to inform new approaches. 

To earn the Distinction in Innovation, students must satisfy each of the following requirements:

  1. Complete at least four semesters of Innovation and Technology coursework 

The following Innovation and Technology courses satisfy this requirement:
  1. Inventing with Technology
  2. Digital Fabrication
  3. AP computer science (year-long course)
  4. AP Computer Science Principles
  5. Game Design
  6. Programming I
  7. App Development
  8. Film Making for a Purpose
  9. Wearables
  10. Idea Incubator

  1. Complete four enhanced assignments.

A student completes an enhanced assignment by expanding upon a project or unit in one of their classes, for example by:
  1. Creating a 3D model of a historical artifact
  2. Coding a method to solve a math problem or explain a topic
  3. Building a website to create an interactive representation of a concept
  4. Developing an entrepreneurial project related to a topic being studied

Students must submit proposed enhanced assignments to the applicable teacher and to their Distinction in Innovation mentor for approval. 

  1. Complete three major projects.

Students will present each of their major projects to the Dawson Community and to a collection of panelists at a Distinction in Innovation showcase held each year. 

Students must (i) be able to clearly communicate the goals and outcomes of each major project and (ii) have a tangible product to display and discuss with both judges and visitors during the showcase. Major projects should reflect a meaningful investment of time, effort, and learning. 

Students are encouraged to think outside of the box in designing their major projects.  For example, a student might:
  1. Design and create a line of “smart clothing”
  2. Design and build an interactive art piece
  3. Identify a sustainability gap on campus or in the community, create a system to collect data, and propose/implement a plan of action to address the gap
  4. Create an interactive, computer-controlled sculpture 
  5. Build an interactive website
  6. Develop an AI structure for a robot
  7. Help design a product for a local small business or startup
  8. Manage the business and marketing for a startup

  1. Create, maintain, and present a digital portfolio.

The digital portfolio will be presented during each student's final Distinction in Innovation Showcase. The portfolio should include but is not limited to:
  • A stated common thread or focus to the trajectory of the projects completed as part of the distinction that ties the work together.
  • Presentation of 4 enhanced assignments with supporting documentation
  • Presentation of 3 major projects with supporting documentation
  • Any additional work completed towards earning the Distinction in Innovation (including any supporting materials, such as final work products, GitHub repositories, presentation materials, and photos/videos.

Please contact Chris Suter, Dawson Center for Innovation Director, at (303) 665-6679 ext. 562 or with any questions about this program.