An Approach to Teaching Innovation Processes in Engineering

Gary Anderson
University of Arkansas at Little Rock


Abstract

Engineering curricula are usually packed with technical courses that cover a breadth of topics within an engineering discipline. Upon entering industry, students often use only a fraction of the knowledge they acquired on the job. Unfortunately, the fraction that is important varies from job to job and is difficult to predict in advance. A skill that would be quite useful in a variety of jobs is one that would allow students to be able to take a vague, ill-defined problem and define it in such a way that it can be solved. At UALR we’ve developed a set of three courses that aim to improve innovation skills for students. The courses are titled: Strategies for Innovation, Design Skills and Innovation Project. These classes were originally envisioned for engineering students only, but have been opened to students from a variety of backgrounds. Through the years we’ve tried a variety of techniques, some successful, others less so. This paper will report on what methods worked well and what needed improvement.