June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
19.7.1 - 19.7.9
On Including Design in a Cross-Disciplinary Innovation CourseToday, innovation is a key word for many universities, as it constitutes an importantpart of most universities’ public and scientific interaction with society. Manyuniversities are striving to increase the frequency of innovations spun out. It iscommonly held that are sprung from research projects and researchers. However,several studies indicate that under-graduate or graduate students emanating fromproduct or market opportunities also generate innovations.Undergraduate or graduate courses that mix students with different academicbackgrounds allowing them to freely synthesize their domain specific knowledge innew contexts, are rare. By combining design, business and engineering students in aninnovation course, and by letting the students apply their knowledge to current marketneeds, innovators can be fostered, innovations generated and entrepreneurs born.Furthermore, mixing cultures and mindsets may stimulate creativity, leading to noveland unexpected ideas.This paper describes the execution and outcome of a new graduate course ininnovation. The course is international and multi-disciplinary in terms of students,teachers and subjects. It was developed in spring 2012 and has since then been giventhree times on a yearly basis. The duration of the course is six (6) weeks and held inChina, with Swedish and Chinese students collaborating in multidisciplinary teams. The mix of design, business and engineering students is a powerful combination sinceknowledge in these three disciplines mirrors the three central characteristics of asuccessful innovation – feasibility, viability and desirability. While engineeringstudents know if and how a technical innovation can be brought into reality(feasibility), management students can determine the market and financial aspects ofbringing an innovation to the market (viability), and design students can make surethe innovation is experienced and presented in an attractive way (desirability). If theinnovation is not desirable, it does not matter if it is desirable and viable – it will notmake a success on the market. Consequently, the role of the design students in thecourse is fundamental. The course offers the opportunity to integrate design thinkingand making in a truly multidisciplinary and multicultural setting – a place is eightinnovations, one per design team, manifested in eight prototypes, eight short moviesand eight business plans.The effects of the course are analyzed 2 ways. Firstly using Pertex analysis andsecondly a frequency-analysis of (the Swedish) students’ career choice: employmentor entrepreneurship. The Pertex analysis reveals a nuanced picture of the meaning andutility of the course. The means of the course for all but one group is: cooperation,teamwork, mixing of cultural backgrounds and educational background. Thefrequency of entrepreneurship when comparing the 3 classes of students taking thecourse with the prior 14 classes not taking the course reveals that before ≤1 of 40chose entrepreneurship, while in the three classes taking the course 1-4 out of 40chose entrepreneurship, an increase of 300-500%.
Warell, A. V., & Johnsson, C., & Nilsson, C. L. (2015, June), Design as an integrating factor in an International Cross-Disciplinary Innovation Course Paper presented at 2015 ASEE International Forum, Seattle, Washington. https://peer.asee.org/17130
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