Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
It is widely acknowledged that engineers “are foundational to technological innovation and development that drive long-term economic growth and help solve societal challenges” . Consequently, it is a major goal in engineering education to ensure and further improve the development of innovation skills among its students. While many studies focus on current engineering students and their innovation goals and skills, it is also informative to see how these goals and skills are translated into realized innovative behavior in the workplace. By studying the characteristics of innovative behavior of engineering graduates we reveal valuable insights and draw conclusions for engineering educators.
Our quantitative study is based on a dataset of 559 early-career engineering graduates who participated in the Engineering Majors Survey (EMS). EMS is a longitudinal U.S. nationwide survey designed to explore engineering students’ and then later graduates’ technical, innovation, and entrepreneurial interests and experiences. Innovative behavior outcomes are analyzed considering socio-demographic characteristics such as gender and underrepresented racial/ethnic minority (URM) status, and characteristics of the workplace such as industry and company size. Furthermore, we elaborate on the interrelation of innovative behavior and leadership responsibility.
We find no significant differences in innovative behavior of female and male engineering graduates. The same is true for URM and non-URM participants in the study. The data suggest that employees in R&D are engaged more strongly in innovative behavior than the average engineering graduate not employed in R&D. At the same time no significant difference is revealed across a wide range of industries. Interestingly, the fraction of participants who indicated having work assignments involving leadership responsibility report a much higher level of innovative behavior than do their counterparts. This raises questions about the relationship between leadership skills and innovative behaviors, and whether leadership skills should be more strongly taken into consideration when thinking about building innovation skills in engineering education.
 National Academy of Engineering 2018. Understanding the Educational and Career Pathways of Engineers. p. 11, Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
Barth, S. J., & Sheppard, S., & Gilmartin, S. K. (2020, June), Analyzing Innovative Behavior Outcomes of Early-career Engineering Graduates Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34148
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