Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
From one perspective, the concept of T-shaped professionals who combine depth of technical expertise with breadth of knowledge appears to be but the latest iteration of the concept of the Renaissance man as exemplified by Leonardo da Vinci. On the other hand, recent interest in the concept seems to respond to needs recognized only recently, especially the needs of firms that seek to distinguish themselves for creativity and innovation. In its original incarnation in a report published in 1991 by the British Computer Society, the T-shaped individual is described as a “hybrid manager” who would combine information technology skills with business skills. Over time, the T-shape ideal has been broadened and deepened—and enthusiastically received on a global scale.
Two of the most prolific advocates of the concept, Demirkan and Spohrer (2015), describe the T-shape innovator as “an alternative paradigm for talent acquisition and management” for firms that need to “find qualified innovation employees [and] to staff, manage, mentor, and retain them” (p. 13). The qualities of the T-shaped professional, as represented in the figure below, are fairly well agreed upon. What is much less clear is how (or perhaps even whether), formal education systems can “produce” such individuals. In this paper, we will trace the evolution of the concept of the T-shaped professional and compare the specific circumstances of its motivation and implementation in Germany and the United States. We will also discuss some specific challenges of and barriers to its implementation and focus on their implications for education for technology entrepreneurship and innovatio.
Neeley, K. A., & Steffensen, B. (2018, June), The T-Shaped Engineer as an Ideal in Technology Entrepreneurship: Its Origins, History, and Significance for Engineering Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31127
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