What is Engineering Innovativeness?
Daniel M. Ferguson and Matthew W. Ohland
School of Engineering Education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, 47907
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I. Innovations: Today’s Societal Dream
Innovation in products, processes and services is sometimes seen as a socioeconomic cure for many the troubles of modern societies. Acting as the translators of new or existing technology into innovations that benefit society is the Olympic torch that engineers are expected to carry, yet the multiple definitions of innovativeness are comprised of slippery, over-used concepts meaning different things to different segments of our society. The purpose of this paper and associated research is to explore the definition of innovativeness in engineers. The research questions are: “What is engineering innovativeness?,” and more specifically, “What is that set of intrinsic factors (skills, personality traits, or attributes) combined with domain knowledge and experience and other extrinsic factors that enable and inspire engineers to create innovations that benefit society?” The construction or modification of an engineering innovativeness measurement instrument will permit the following research questions to be addressed: “How innovative are engineering students and professional engineers?” and “How do we increase engineering innovativeness?”