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A Structured Approach To Innovation: A Classroom Experience In Inventive Problem Solving For An Entrepreneurial Program

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Entrepreneurship Education: Cases and Models

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.114.1 - 14.114.18



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Paper Authors

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Dana Clarke Applied Innovation Alliance

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Donald Reimer Lawrence Technological University

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Ahad Ali Lawrence Technological University

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

A Structured Approach to Innovation - A Classroom Experience in Inventive Problem Solving for Entrepreneurial Program


This paper describes a unique course on Structured Approaches to Innovation for Lear Entrepreneurial Program in College of Engineering at the Lawrence Technological University. Lawrence Tech’s Lear Entrepreneurial Program offers the opportunity to work in a business- model setting to solve real-world engineering problems. Students in any of Lawrence Tech’s undergraduate engineering disciplines have the unique option to bring real products and services to market, while solving real-world engineering problems. Students prepare to run their own companies, be an integral part of a small company or lead successful projects in a larger company.

This course is designed to deliver Structured Innovation skills and knowledge that enhanced the problem solving capabilities of students in entrepreneurial or entrepreneurial environments. When approaching an engineering problem, it gives a structured and very visual way to attack a problem. Team based learning environment was used. Two student groups were created. One team had four students and other five representing civil, mechanical and electrical engineering disciplines. Each team developed a Team Charter in which the problem was defined. Each was challenged to solve the same problem applying the tools and methods learned in the class lectures and reading materials. Each team was to evaluate the Apple IPOD for possible hearing loss to users due to the design of the earphones. Each team was given the charge of modifying or redesigning the earphones to reduce the potential of hearing loss. Students were asked to apply structured approaches including unique theoretical concepts, unique conceptual tools and unique analytical tools (e.g. four-step process, ideal thinking, resources analysis, resolving contradictions, separation principles, evolutionary patterns, etc.). Each team presented one or more possible solutions to the problem at the conclusion of the class. Student learning experiences were a key issue how to use an innovation process to better organize thoughts and hopefully create more innovative solutions. Structured Innovation allows looking at the problem in a new way.

Course Development – Structured Approaches to Innovation

The challenge of understanding innovation as a structured process is addressed in the Structured Approaches to Innovation course. It was developed within the College of Engineering at the Lawrence Technological University. Lawrence Tech is a private university founded in 1932. It has approximately 4,100 students and is located in Southfield, Michigan. The college offers undergraduate, graduate and doctorial degrees in architecture and design, management, arts and sciences and engineering. It has a strong commitment to development students with an entrepreneurial mindset with a global view.

The development of this course was made possible by a grant from The Kern Family Foundation. Lawrence Tech is one of twenty two colleges and universities that are part of the Kern

Clarke, D., & Reimer, D., & Ali, A. (2009, June), A Structured Approach To Innovation: A Classroom Experience In Inventive Problem Solving For An Entrepreneurial Program Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5306

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