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A Course In Technological Innovation For First Year Engineering Students: Methodology And Outcomes

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.23.1 - 6.23.8



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Pierre Cilliers

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 2793

A Course in Technological Innovation for First Year Engineering students: Methodology and Outcomes.

Pierre J Cilliers, Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


The current paper presents the motivation, methodology and results of an experiment in Engineering Education aimed at stimulating creativity and innovation in first year engineering students in the Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering at the University of Pretoria over the period 1998 to 2000. The experiment was conducted by means of a new course called Technological Innovation. The motivation for the teaching model used in the course is founded on research done earlier in the same department on the determinants of creative design in Electronic Engineering students1,2. The earlier research demonstrated the correlation between the students' own perception of their extrovertiveness and their ability to come up with innovative product ideas. The methodology used in the first year course which is the topic of this paper focused on group projects, the use of the Nedd Herrmann four quadrant brain model and the various mindsets of the creative problem solving heuristic of Lumsdaine3 . The course guided the students through the identification and development of a technological product which addresses a real-world problem within given limitations of topic, time and cost. Examples are presented of the course content, the assignments, and the outcomes of this course. Outcomes include both the innovative technological products that students developed and statistics on the change in their perception of their own creativity as derived from surveys done at the beginning and end of the course. The systematic approach to problem solving presented in this course together with the development and delivery of a demonstrable product as the key outcome resulted in a significant increase in the self-perception of the creativity of the students who have taken this course.

1. Introduction

The objective of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a particular learning model to improve students’ self-perception of their creative problem solving ability, henceforth referred to as self-perception of creativity (SPOC). The definition of problem solving models and their relationship to effectiveness in design has been the focus of recent research on engineering education4,5. The learning model for the first year course Technological Innovation is based on research on creative behaviour in Engineering students 1,2. In Hattingh1 the determinants of creative design in Electronic Engineering students was investigated in a sample of 165 third year Electronic Engineering students using 88 variables to measure personality, cognitive abilities, task orientation, environmental factors and different indices of creativity. The correlation of these variables with “quality in design”, as

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Cilliers, P. (2001, June), A Course In Technological Innovation For First Year Engineering Students: Methodology And Outcomes Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9052

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