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Developing Innovation Capabilities and Competencies for Undergraduate Engineering and Technology Education

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

INT. Engineering Education: Developments, Innovations, Partnerships, and Implementations

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Page Count


Page Numbers

23.401.1 - 23.401.23



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Paper Authors


James L. Barnes James Madison University

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Dr. James L. Barnes is a professor of Integrated Science and Technology at James Madison University (JMU) and co-principal of Barnes Technologies International, LLC (BTILLC). He has over thirty-five years of experience in science and technology fields and has been the independent evaluator for many international programs. Prior to joining the JMU faculty, Dr. Barnes was the Director of NASA RISE, a NASA research institute at Eastern Michigan University and at the technology research center at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his doctoral degree from Virginia Tech and authored numerous publications in Problem Solving, Sustainability, and Innovation.

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Michael J. Dyrenfurth Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Michael J. Dyrenfurth is a professor of Technology Leadership and Innovation in the College of Technology at Purdue University. He is a member of the ASEE and he has served on the Board of the ETD and as program chair for the CIEC in New Orleans (2008). Previously he completed a four year term as Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Purdue University’s College of Technology. His scholarship agenda focuses on technological innovation, technological literacy, workforce development, and international dimensions of these fields. Increasingly, he has turned his attention to the field of technological innovation and the assessment of technological capability, understanding and innovation.
Internationally he has worked in Germany, South Africa, Poland, the USSR, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Czech and Slovak Republics, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan His early experience involved teaching in Alberta and at universities in North Dakota and New Jersey.
Immediately before coming to Purdue, he served as graduate coordinator for the Industrial Education and Technology Department at Iowa State University. Previously, for twenty years, he was on the faculty of the University of Missouri’s Department of Practical Arts and Vocational Technical Education in various professorial, coordinator and leadership roles. He maintains a consulting practice in the area of third party evaluation, technology futuring and leadership and curriculum development.
He received his Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University and his Masters and Bachelor’s degrees at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

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Susan Kubic Barnes James Madison University

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Developing Innovation Capabilities and Competencies as a Integral Component of the Engineering and Technology Education Undergraduate CurriculumAbstract: The exponential factoring of knowledge due to scientific and technologicaladvance, solving complex global problems will require a different way of thinking than wasused to create them. No longer are solutions bound within a domain, science ortechnology. Instead solutions require a highly integrated approach across many domains,sciences, or technologies. Albert Einstein stated “We can’t solve problems by using thesame kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Einstein was emphasizing thatone’s knowledge and understanding are limited by one’s own experience, education, andresearch and that the advancement of knowledge and science required more. Friedman inhis book, Hot. Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution – and How It CanRenew America, and Senge, Smith, Kruschwitz, Lauer, and Schley in their book, TheNecessary Revolution: How Individuals and Organizations are Working Together toCreate a Sustainable World, called for this type of thinking to solve complex globalproblems to produce a sustainable world. To better prepare students to become more effective citizens and problem solvers in ourincreasingly interconnected, globalized world, the kind of thinker who contemplates complexglobal problems, the engineering and technology education curriculum must move to a moreglobal educational model, and in particular, one that embraces integrating innovation capabilitiesand competencies that develop this new way of thinking about global problems. This change inthe engineering and technology education curriculum will be necessary to address the ever-changing environment of ABET standards for accreditation. The authors of this paper present what key innovation theorist believe are the necessaryinnovation capabilities and competencies necessary for future leaders to solve the critical globalproblems facing our society. A traditional approach, for example, utilizes “systems-theoretic”approaches to studying global problems that relate to the dynamics of science, technology, andinnovation and their relationship to economic growth. However, while these complex systemdynamics approaches are attractive, they are also limited in their nature for solving globalproblems. Instead solutions require a highly integrated approach across many domains, sciences, ortechnologies. The paper describes the innovation capabilities and competencies necessary fordeveloping sustainability solutions by integrating and applying knowledge of how organicsystems (systems of nature) work with human systems, the nexus between problem solving(deductive reasoning) and scientific inquiry (inductive reasoning). It also focuses on thenecessary innovation capabilities and competencies for understanding how relationships betweentwo metabolisms, biological (cycles of nature) and technical (cycles of industry), provide aknowledge of systems of nature, how phenomena in nature exist, and how humans think thoseenvironments ought to be. The concept deals with the integrative relationship of how sciencestarts with a problem and is guided by theory, while technology results in discoveries which leadto theories. The result is a problem-centric curriculum approach developing the key innovationcapabilities and competencies necessary to solving complex global problems by providing anovel way of answering the questions of what is the necessary knowledge and sufficientconditions to solve complex global problems, what are the sources of knowledge about naturethat are most applicable, and how is that knowledge structured and limited. Using this type ofthinking can greatly enhance the opportunities to solve, manage, or control the major complexglobal problems facing society. Through this presentation the authors present a study that has wide application for allfacets of engineering and technology education as an integral component of continuous programimprovement.

Barnes, J. L., & Dyrenfurth, M. J., & Barnes, S. K. (2013, June), Developing Innovation Capabilities and Competencies for Undergraduate Engineering and Technology Education Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19415

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