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Managing Creativity: A Creative Engineering Education Approach

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

ASEE Multimedia Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.833.1 - 7.833.14



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Paper Authors

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Donna Shirley

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Session 2002 Document: 2002-406 Division: Multimedia

Managing Creativity: A Creative Engineering Education Approach

Donna L. Shirley Assistant Dean College of Engineering University of Oklahoma


Managing Creativity is the title of a course originally developed by an experienced manager of creative teams for training industry executives. However, it has been adapted successfully to teaching the end-to-end process of engineering to college students. The paper describes the Creative System which is the basis of Managing Creativity, outlines the class structure and subjects covered, and describes the overall process. Positive student evaluations and continued demand for the course are used for assessment. The course covers all aspects of a creative enterprise, from assembling a creative team, to generating original ideas, to alignment of the team and its customers and suppliers, to planning, design, risk management, production, and deployment into the market or operational environment. All classes include business planning and a hands-on engineering project (usually designing and constructing robots). The role of evaluation and communication are stressed. The course provides an important overview and hands- on experience normally not available to engineering students until their senior design course.


Managing Creativity is a concept developed based on the author’s 35 years of experience in a variety of creative enterprises, including management of NASA’s $150M per year Mars Exploration Program and of the Pathfinder microrover, Sojourner Truth, which roamed Mars in 1997. In 1997 and 1998 the author and a collaborator (Alice M. Fairhurst, a counseling psychologist with expertise in personality type), developed a short course in how to manage creativity for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The course was presented about a dozen times to mixed groups with jobs ranging from secretaries to top managers.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Shirley, D. (2002, June), Managing Creativity: A Creative Engineering Education Approach Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11001

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