Marlon Family IDEAS Center

design thinking, robotics, Arduino boards

Gould Academy’s new Marlon Family IDEAS Center – which stands for Innovation, Design Thinking, Entrepreneurship, Arts, and Science – boasts an entire floor of dedicated “maker” and design thinking space that supports innovation and collaboration through building creative confidence. Applying design thinking to this creative space is based on years of practice at the Institute of Design at Stanford.

Within the IDEAS Center is the Design Thinking Studio, which acts as the hub of the design thinking wheel and provides ample, flexible space to collaborate thanks to large, movable whiteboards and furniture, not to mention space to create with enough room for a textile center as well.

Three fabrication studios support the Design Thinking Studio, including a Digital Studio with 3D printers, a laser cutter, large format printer, and vinyl cutter; a Physical Fabrication Studio with CNC routers, a band saw, table saw, drill press, and hand tools; and a Media Room complete with instruments, microphones, and recording software.

Our students are in the driver’s seat. They use interactive design to build prototypes, re-imagine them and then repeat. The result is a student who identifies problems and creates solutions.

That’s innovation.

IDEAS Center Courses Include:

Foundations for Makers

Foundations for Makers empowers students to develop the mindset and skillset of a maker. Students receive entry-level training in the physical and digital studios and basic electronics. Projects allow for tool certification with hand and power tools; experience with design construction for laser fabrication; practice with fasteners and fastening techniques for assembling 3D objects from 2D parts; and incorporating soldering techniques and basic Arduino programming into woodcraft projects.

This course can be used to satisfy the Visual Arts graduation requirement.

Robotics and Engineering

Ready to learn how engineers design the world around us? Aspiring engineers will learn the process of designing, prototyping, and iterating designs to complete challenges using the VEX Robotics system. In this class, you will learn the basics of engineering, Autodesk Fusion 360, and how to document your designs. The tasks you will need to complete will be robotic in nature which requires you to use the engineering principles to build something that works reliably and completes the tasks.

Cross-listed with the Computer Science Department. Earns Computer Science credit.

Introduction of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

This course offers an introduction to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). We will focus on RC scale UAVs. This will start with simple gliders and move on to 3- and 4-channel aircraft. We will also cover flying wings and multi-rotors. Learning how each of these aircraft fly and what they can be used for is a great way to learn the skills required to be a UAV pilot. We will utilize simulators to get real-life flight experience without having to do numerous repairs. Weather permitting we will fly our UAVs on the field. This is a great class if you have an interest in flight.

Cross-listed with the Science Department. Earns Science credit.

Social Entrepreneurship

How do I know? Why do I know? What does it matter? What can I do with it? How might I develop an idea into a business? While learning from case studies and innovative visionaries, students explore business development strategies using the design-thinking approach, develop business plans, learn to network, practice pitch sessions, and bring an idea to a business model. Throughout the course, students get hands-on experience by learning to run SA-KRED, the student-run cafe. This class qualifies a student to apply for an Innovation Internship.

Composite Constructions

Students will learn the basics of ski/snowboard design, composite construction, and shop safety. Each student will build a set of skis or a snowboard and learn how they are assembled and why certain materials are included. If you’ve ever wondered why carbon fiber makes a ski stiff and light this is the class for you. We utilize the same materials as commercial skis and your skis/snowboard can be just as functional.

Prerequisite: Foundations for Makers, or departmental approval based on prior experience. Cross listed with the Arts Department. This course can be used to satisfy the Visual Arts graduation requirement.

(Course material fee required.)

Design Activism

This interdisciplinary project-based course emphasizes design activism, which stems from design thinking. Through hands-on collaborative making, students explore historical moments of activism and discover a relevant issue to explore and do design activism in the community. Students will explore an issue and learn design-thinking skills such as user-centered research, rapid prototyping, iterative implementation as well as learning how to use a variety of tools in the IDEAS Center.

Cross-listed with the History Department. Earns History credit.

Robotics and Programming

This course introduces a variety of skills from robotic design, programming, and designing to prototyping a mini-robot. Students learn how to program in Scratch and progress quickly to programming the Lego EV3 for creative problem-solving. Robotic design extends to Arduino platforms and teaches how to read sensors, control motors and lights, and write code to interact with the world.

Cross-listed with the Computer Science Department. Earns Computer Science credit.

Arduinos and Electronics

This course introduces students into the world of electronics. They learn AC and DC theory as well as how discrete components like capacitors, resistors, and transistors work and why we use them. These components are used in conjunction with Arduino-based microcontrollers to complete projects that open up students to the world of modern electronics. Through the use of prototype techniques and with equipment like oscilloscopes, multimeters, and logic probes students take their first steps into the world of electronics design and the internet of things.

Cross listed with the Computer Science Department. Earns Computer Science credit.

3D Design with CAD

3D design and modeling allows engineers and artists alike to quickly create complex models that can be turned into physical models or used as digital assets. This class teaches the fundamental skills to work in a 3D environment and create models. Students learn about the core concepts of both solid and polygon modeling and how they differ. There are opportunities to hold physical creations as students learn the process of preparing designs for digital fabrication and deploying the jobs. This is the perfect class for anyone looking to make their first steps as a 3D artist, engineer, architect, designer, and innovator.

This course can be used to satisfy the Visual Arts graduation requirement.

The Marlon Family IDEAS Center was made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Tony and Renee Marlon Charitable Foundation.

IDEAS Center Faculty

Paul Haberstroh

B.S., Saint Mary’s College of California
Director of the Marlon Family IDEAS Center
Basketball Coach
Mountain Biking Coach


Mr. Haberstroh is a passionate Innovation and Design Thinking teacher strongly committed to STEM Education. He comes to Gould with extensive experience developing Innovation Labs and Design Engineering Curriculum. He is very involved in the global Digital Fabrication community and has presented at several Educational Technology Conferences. Equally passionate about athletics and the outdoors, Mr. Haberstroh rowed crew and played rugby at Saint Mary’s College, and is a former competitive mountain bike racer. He lives on campus with his wife, Jean.