Asee peer logo

Technology and Need as Starting Points for Innovation - Experiences from Multidisciplinary Student Teams

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Exploring the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Mindset

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Tuuli Maria Utriainen Aalto University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Tuuli Utriainen is keen to deeply understand the human experience. She's worked in the borderline of various fields and facilitated over 60 global teams engaged in human-centered product development. Tuuli is currently working at CERN, where together with her team she's established the IdeaSquare unit. Its purpose is to connect the technological know-how and radical thinking of CERN to solve some of the human kind’s biggest issues.

visit author page


Ville Taajamaa University of Turku

visit author page

Ville M. Taajamaa, D.Sc (Tech), research focus is in engineering education research, and new product development. The main outcome of his recent research is an action–based education framework and a new model for interdisciplinary engineering education: O-CDIO where emphasis is more in the first phases of the engineering process: Observe-CDIO compared to traditional engineering education focusing mainly on problem solving. The core idea is to educate engineers to become excellent problem definers in addition to becoming problem solvers. In practice O-CDIO combines natural sciences with human-centered sciences into a single education structure with embedded design thinking processes and methods.

visit author page


Raghu Ram Movva SAFM - College des Ingenieurs Italia

visit author page

Academic background in Nanotechnology from multiple universities - EPFL (CH), INPG (FR), Politecnico di Torino (IT) & UC Berkeley (US). After a brief stint in strategic consulting, co-founded three start-ups - Smart-park, MTCS & Brava Italia. Later after obtaining, an MBA from Collège des Ingénieurs (CDI), currently heading the Innovation department in CDI ITalia which includes projects like Innovation for Change (Impact Innovation project - joint collaboration by CERN, Politecnico di Torino & CDI Italia), CDILabs (An open-innovation project that helps build sales relationships between MNCs and Startups) and School for Entrepreneurship. Passionate about technology, education, science fiction, applied futures and innovation.

visit author page


Joona Kurikka Aalto University

visit author page

Joona Kurikka is a PhD Researcher at Aalto University and Associate at CERN, working at the innovation experiment IdeaSquare. As part of his work at CERN, he is coordinating and teaching student project like Challenge Based Innovation and various smaller innovation workshops, hackathons and other projects. His current research focus is on processes and ICT tools for distributed collaboration and learning.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Technology and need as starting points for innovation - experiences from multidisciplinary student teams

In research organizations, the starting point for innovation is typically technology developed in-house and the application of it in a novel field. The authors have experimented with an unconventional approach in the context of CERN, where course structures start with a need instead of technology.

We introduce an open-ended course Innovation for Change, that utilizes design thinking as an underlying structure. The course sets considerable emphasis on the first phases of the design thinking process, which include ideation, observation, need finding, and early phase prototyping.

In order to understand the preferred starting points for innovation (need, technology or self-defined), the students' opinions were gathered through an online survey post kick off and post project. The data was analyzed with both statistical and qualitative methods.

The research results demonstrate that the students had a slight preference for need-based challenge framing in the start of the project. However, by the end of the project, their preferences were fairly evenly divided between the need, technology or self-defined challenge approaches. Some evidence was gained to support the hypothesis, that the students would find a need-based challenge framing motivating. In future research different demographic groups could be surveyed to find differences in e.g. field based or cultural perceptions.

Utriainen, T. M., & Taajamaa, V., & Movva, R. R., & Kurikka, J. (2017, June), Technology and Need as Starting Points for Innovation - Experiences from Multidisciplinary Student Teams Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28936

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015