June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
22.154.1 - 22.154.33
All Innovation Is Innovation of Systems: An Integrated 3-D Model of Innovation CompetenciesThe development of the future generations of innovators is of central interest to engineeringeducators. What are the competencies of innovation and how do we do we develop them? Thereis a considerable body of scholarly, business, and popular literature concerned with thecharacteristics of innovative people and organizations, in which attention is frequently focusedon individual creativity and other personality traits, organizational cultures, and other non-technical capabilities. We argue here that the typical descriptions of innovation competencies arecorrect but incomplete, lacking critical dimensions that are essential for planning an educationalcurriculum and assessing progress within it.The foundation of our model of innovation competencies rests on our definition of innovation:The ability to develop novel solutions to problems that result in significantly enhancedstakeholder satisfaction. As engineering educators, we believe that innovation is only effectivewhen it includes the full cycle leading to delivery of improved stakeholder outcomes, and thisintroduces challenges beyond an initial creative mental leap. We accept that (1) certaindiscipline-specific technical competencies traditionally addressed by engineering educationalprograms can be important to innovation, and (2) we likewise accept that a collection of non-technical traits are also vital to successful innovators. However, in this paper we argue that thecombination of (1) discipline-specific technical skills and (2) non-technical competencies ismissing an entire dimension. This third dimension is a technical one, but not specific to adiscipline: it is the set of systems competencies. The resulting three-dimensional model providesan integrated view of the competencies of innovation, against which educators can plan, educate,and measure accomplishment.By separating but coupling the three dimensions of this model, we have a tool spanning differentengineering programs, providing an integrating framework for conversation across ourspecialties. We have identified assessment indicators used in demonstrating the attainment ofthese competencies. A novel aspect of these demonstrations along the systems dimension is theirexplicit use of Model-Based Systems Engineering (MBSE) artifacts. The emergence of MBSEmethods has a transformative impact on not only performance of systemic aspects ofengineering, but also education in these methods. MBSE transforms “bag of tricks” and “body ofknowledge” engineering requiring decades to learn into scientifically-based systemic skills thatcan be learned and explicitly demonstrated by undergraduates.This paper is based upon work carried out by a summer workshop on innovation, building onhistorical work on institutional learning outcomes, industrial systems engineering methodology,and global research in characteristics of innovators. As a part of our institution’s emphasis oninnovation, we are now piloting the related methods in specific disciplines, some of which areillustrated in the paper.
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