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Innovative Confidence: What Engineering Educators Can Do and Say to Graduate More Effective Innovators and Intrapreneurs

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division – Program Development & Desired Outcomes

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.970.1 - 26.970.22



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Paper Authors


Leo E. Hanifin University of Detroit Mercy

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After engineering positions in the computer, aerospace and automotive industries, Dr. Hanifin led a research center focused on manufacturing technology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute for eleven years. He then served as Dean of the College of Engineering and Science at the University of Detroit Mercy for twenty-one years. He is now retired from full-time academic responsibilities, but continues to consult in higher education, study innovation methods and advocate for effective transit systems.

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Ross A. Lee Villanova University

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“Innovative Confidence: what engineering educators can do and say to graduate more effectiveinnovators and intrapreneurs”Dr. Leo E. HanifinAbstractMany innovation leaders recommend attributes, mindsets and behaviors that require high levels ofconfidence and self-efficacy. As such, innovation rests upon the individual’s sense of self and his/herconfidence to perform various activities that are essential to innovation. These include creativity,ethnographic research, challenging the status quo, teamwork, making presentations and acceptingconstructive criticism, most of which are anxiety-producing for students, especially early in theirengineering education.However, there is little engineering education research that focuses on the ways in which engineeringfaculty members might simultaneously develop the competence and the confidence of their students,especially as it relates to these activities, or how they can avoid creating the fear and subsequentinsecurity that diminishes student performance of them.This paper first discusses relevant literature linking confidence and self-efficacy to innovation. It thenexamines the central activities of innovation and the ways in which student learning activities andfaculty members’ interactions with students may negatively impact student confidence, and, indirectly,their competence. A pedagogical strategy of “scaffolding” is proposed whereby confidence andcompetence repeatedly build upon each other, building upward in steps of increasing size. Classroomexercises and assignments are suggested to implement this strategy within several specific innovation-related activities.

Hanifin, L. E., & Lee, R. A. (2015, June), Innovative Confidence: What Engineering Educators Can Do and Say to Graduate More Effective Innovators and Intrapreneurs Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24307

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