Design & Engineering

Ideate > Innovate > Iterate > Repeat

From CO2 cars to robots, hydroponics to eTextiles, bike repair to coding, our Design & Engineering curriculum exposes students to creative and technical challenges. Incorporating the processes of design and engineering, students collaborate with one another to take their ideas from paper to product.

Students explore new and exciting trends through these type of projects in the classroom, and participate in multiple field trips ranging from trips to the new Vikings stadium to the Mill City Museum!


Our Pathway curriculum sets UMA apart from traditional school curriculum, and aims to provide a more relevant and approachable way for students to learn. The following learning objectives represent the outcomes we hope students take away from this curriculum.

  • Curiosity

    The practice of wondering and asking good questions as well as the desire to understand people and the world around them more deeply are critical to the school’s core mission and is reflected in all content areas across every grade level.

  • Creativity

    Turning new and imaginative ideas into reality involves two processes: thinking and producing.

  • Collaboration

    Observing, listening to, and learning from others who have ideas and perspectives and expertise different from your own is critical to the design process at every layer of teaching and learning.

  • Associative or Integrative Thinking

    Associating ideas with not only previous, but also ongoing experiences and integrating thoughts into multiple aspects of teaching and learning are fundamental to creativity and innovation.

  • Tendency Toward Action and Experimentation

    “Design-thinking” requires a willingness to experiment and take calculated risks, the ability to tolerate failure, perseverance, and the capacity to approach problems and solutions as well as innovative thoughts and ideas in new and creative ways.


UMA strives to guide students in realizing their own values and formulating their own understanding of global interconnectedness. The following themes represent the values we hope students build on through engaging in this curriculum.

Preservation: Students at UMA recognize and honor the design process as it relates to past, present, and future contributions of engineering as our society strives to face global and environmental challenges and improve the overall quality of life.

Sustainability: At UMA, students explore opportunities for sustainability of thoughts, ideas, and products in parallel with the design process.

Innovation: Students recognize innovation as the vehicle for discovering optimal solutions for global and environmental issues as they relate to the Design Process and engineering contributions.

Ritual and Intention: Students practice the act of gathering in large and small groups to share thoughts and ideas. Students extend this practice into home and community settings. By proceeding with deliberate and purposeful thoughts and ideas, students develop an appreciation of learning by doing.

Unity: Students create an atmosphere of cooperation. By welcoming the ideas and contributions of others, students seek to elevate the experience of all by offering and receiving encouragement and direction from peers and mentors.

Gifting: Students understand and practice a culture of “gifting” to each other, their families, and their community from their thoughts and ideas in the labs to their creations and products in the studio and workshop.

Confidence: UMA strives to create an engaging and stimulating environment where students can explore their strengths, foster new interests, engage in creative problem-solving in a risk-free learning environment and build their competencies within the context of artistic design and the engineering process.

Observation and Awareness: The labs, workshop, and studio provide opportunities for creativity, critical thinking and problem-solving as well as collaboration with peers and community experts. Working individually and collaboratively in these settings encourages students to utilize their inherent curiosity about creations and designs in both the man-made and natural world. Students learn to observe patterns and connections and understand cause and effect.

Beauty: Beauty delivers a message of both optimism and expectation to students about the world around them. Whether it is the beauty in a thought or idea, the beauty of a design, or the beauty in a product, students notice and appreciate quality in workmanship and the design process. The sense of high-quality design and innovative creativity communicates care and value to the individual and those around him/her.

Interconnectedness: Participating in the Design Cycle in a variety of learning environments allows students to see the relationship among curiosity, creativity, problem-solving, and design. Students become a part of a community committed to the design process as it relates to the natural world, innovation and invention, and to the society in which they live.

female student making CO2 car

Students working on Mortenson Project

male students building with popsicle sticks