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Measuring Innovative Thinking Skills in Innovation Challenge Activities

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

The Nature of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Session 4

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.892.1 - 24.892.8



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Paper Authors


Catherine T. Amelink Virginia Tech

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Dr. Amelink is Director of Graduate Programs and Assessment in the College of Engineering, Virginia Tech.

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Christina Seimetz Wade Virginia Tech

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Christina Seimetz is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She also serves as program support staff for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity where she is involved with recruitment, outreach, and retention programs specifically targeted towards females interested in engineering. Ms. Seimetz earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Tech.

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Bevlee A. Watford Virginia Tech


Joseph Ariel Cuadrado-Medina Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Joseph is a Graduate Student in the Mechanical Engineering and Nuclear Engineering departments at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. While studying for his Master's Degree, he had the privilege of working at the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) as a graduate assistant. In his time working at CEED, he became a co-director of inVenTs Studio 1 & 2 located in a residential hall on campus. There, he taught students how to use the equipment, facilitated company interactions to make Innovation Challenge Activities possible, and oversaw a group of upper-class undergraduates who help lead the community to success. He is a member of ANS, ASME, INMM, and IEEE.

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Juan Carlos Folgar-Lopez

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Stephanie Nicole Lewis Virginia Tech

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ENT Measuring Innovative Thinking Skills in Innovation Challenge ActivitiesIndustry has recognized the need to increase innovation in the engineering workforce. Engineerswith innovative thinking skills have the ability solve problems in new ways, which can lead tobetter generation of solutions. Consequently, innovation leads to a better quality of products.Literature emphasize a certain skillset that defines innovative thinking: • Critical thinking and generation of new ideas • Application and integration of new and existing knowledge • Communication of new ideas to stakeholders • Effective use of tools and technology during the design process • Complex thinking processed • Prototyping and commercialization.The need for innovation in industry translates to a need to better prepare engineering students tobe innovative thinkers. The purpose of this paper is to present how innovative thinking skills arebeing assessed through small-scale innovation design challenges.Efforts are being made to improve innovative the thinking skills of undergraduate engineeringstudents through a multidisciplinary living-learning program. The living-learning programencompasses four separate STEM living-learning communities: 2 science living-learningcommunities and 2 engineering living-learning communities. To promote innovation, the living-learning program provides Innovation Challenges in which students learn about real-worldapplications of innovation and entrepreneurship through the completion of small, hands-ondesign challenges. Company representatives often lead the Innovation Challenges. The designchallenge is typically based on a company product or project. For example, an automobilecompany asked participants to design and build a muffler prototype from glue and PVC pipesand then tested its ability to reduce noise using a tone generator.Innovative thinking skills are assessed during and after each Innovation Challenge to determinethe students’ levels of innovative thinking skills and whether the various aspects of innovativethinking are addressed in each challenge. Students are assessed by observers using a rubric toevaluate individual teams based on the innovative thinking skills that they demonstrate duringthe activity. After each event, students are also asked to take a survey, reporting their self-perceptions of their innovative thinking skills. Currently, data show that Innovation Challengeshave positive effects on students’ innovative thinking skills. As Innovation Challenges continuethroughout the 2013-2014 academic, data will be analyzed. Results of this study can identifywhether the current pedagogy being used is an effective way to teach innovation in anengineering program.

Amelink, C. T., & Wade, C. S., & Watford, B. A., & Cuadrado-Medina, J. A., & Folgar-Lopez, J. C., & Lewis, S. N. (2014, June), Measuring Innovative Thinking Skills in Innovation Challenge Activities Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22825

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