The Innovation Imperative: Injecting Creativity into the Engineering Curriculum


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The times are fast-paced, entrepreneurial, and demand pervasive, persistent innovation and creativity, yet we continue to educate engineers with a curriculum forged in the crucible of the cold war.

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The Innovation Imperative: Injecting Creativity into the Engineering Curriculum

  1. 1. The Innovation Imperative Injecting Creativity into the Curricula of Engineering & Applied Science David E. Goldberg Industrial & Enterprise Systems Engineering University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, Illinois 61801 [email_address]
  2. 2. Live in Times of Concern <ul><li>Globalization shaking confidence. </li></ul><ul><li>Cheap, effective talent in Shanghai and Bangalore can be hired and managed at a distance. </li></ul><ul><li>Colleges of engineering & applied science rethinking role. </li></ul><ul><li>Living on success of WW2 and Cold War. </li></ul><ul><li>Must understand lessons of history, philosophy, economics, and psychology for our time and our universities. </li></ul><ul><li>Category creation, innovation & creativity as the imperative of our times. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Roadmap <ul><li>A cold war curriculum in an Internet world. </li></ul><ul><li>The academy & 3 missed revolutions. </li></ul><ul><li>Technoeconomics behind the revolutions. </li></ul><ul><li>A Landscape of Os: 3 Os and the missing O. </li></ul><ul><li>Postmodern systems engineering and the qual-quant divide. </li></ul><ul><li>Pink’s conceptual age. </li></ul><ul><li>Price’s Tech visionaries. </li></ul><ul><li>Training for broad competence. </li></ul><ul><li>Training for creative modeling. </li></ul>
  4. 4. WW2, the Cold War & Now <ul><li>In final days of the Vannevar Bush era. </li></ul><ul><li>Headed US wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development. </li></ul><ul><li>Report, The Endless Frontier, set stage for NSF and ongoing funding of scientific research </li></ul><ul><li>Curriculum, funding, P&T, and institution adapted to this change. </li></ul>Vannevar Bush (1890-1974)
  5. 5. Post-War, Cold-War Reality <ul><li>Large, centralized corporations, governments, and institutions (including universities). </li></ul><ul><li>World War II myth of science dominates engineering minds. </li></ul><ul><li>Federal funding becomes the central fact of science and engineering academy. </li></ul><ul><li>Rugged specialized individualism prized above all else. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Bigger & Centralized is Better <ul><li>WW2/CW organizations were big and centralized. </li></ul><ul><li>Economies of scale dominate organizational economics. </li></ul><ul><li>Hierarchy dominates organizational thought. </li></ul><ul><li>Universities followed suit, funded in part from new stream of Federal research monies & new imperative to pursue same. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Myth & Embrace of Science <ul><li>World-War 2 myth: Science won the war (bomb/radar). </li></ul><ul><li>World War 2 reality: Engineering won the war (P-51, Liberty ship, engineering, manufacturing, logistical prowess. </li></ul><ul><li>Liberty Ships: 16 shipbuilding yards, 230 days down to 42 days each, 2751 made </li></ul><ul><li>Computer science chose to call itself a “science.” </li></ul><ul><li>See DEG 1996 article Change in Engineering Education. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Funding & Specialization in Academy <ul><li>Funding used to vet faculty quality. </li></ul><ul><li>The Rule: If funded & published then good. </li></ul><ul><li>Negative effects: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Devalues engineering PhD (subsidy creates more). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Funding sought for its own sake (chase of marginal $). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disconnects engineering faculty from engineering practitioner. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Specialization & individual pursuits. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Business colleges different: Seek stature among practitioners in the business community. Eschew funding. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Thomas Kuhn & Paradigms <ul><li>Working from Wittgenstein’s discursive turn, Kuhn published, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962. </li></ul><ul><li>Argued that science proceeds in fits and starts, not gradually. </li></ul><ul><li>Old paradigms, ways of thinking about the world, are overturned as quite different ways of thinking come along. </li></ul>Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)
  10. 10. The Paradigm of Our Times <ul><li>The following assumptions are sacrosanct in many places: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Basic engineering science is the key to college success. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Government funds superior to industry or foundation funds. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty demonstrate mettle as individuals in narrow specialty with peer-reviewed journal papers in top journals. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Question one of these  incredulous stare, derision, and ridicule. </li></ul><ul><li>Not science. A mindset. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Function & Dysfunction of Paradigms <ul><li>Paradigms are helpful because they become an unquestioned habit: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Masses work under the paradigm without question. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Share its values and form cohesive, unified organization. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>When times change, paradigm is THE major obstruction to change. </li></ul><ul><li>The paradigm was major contributor to success of many universities in 1960s and 70s. </li></ul><ul><li>Now a major obstacle to change. </li></ul><ul><li>Victims of our past success. </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Missed Revolutions <ul><li>The paradigm was OK for WW2 & Cold War. </li></ul><ul><li>Slow to adapt to external changes thereafter. </li></ul><ul><li>Missed revolutions since WW2: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurial revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In what sense missed? </li></ul>
  13. 13. Quality Revolution <ul><li>Most corporations overhauled in response to quality concerns. </li></ul><ul><li>Total quality management: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Kaizen or continual improvement. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality circles and interdisciplinary teams. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Occasionally discussed in relation to university staff functions. </li></ul><ul><li>Lip service paid in recent accreditation requirements. </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Sand Hill Road Revolution <ul><li>The rise of entrepreneurs and companies in Silicon Valley. </li></ul><ul><li>High tech is born and shift goes from science to tech xfer. </li></ul><ul><li>Culture of the VC. </li></ul><ul><li>PhDs and profs as entrepreneurs. </li></ul><ul><li>Efforts still largely separate from mainstream CoE. </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty afraid to discuss their companies. Not serious. </li></ul>
  15. 15. IT Revolution Missed <ul><li>Yes, we are IT makers and users. </li></ul><ul><li>Yes, we have web sites. </li></ul><ul><li>But larger institutional reform missing: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Classroom teaching the same. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Research dissemination modes the same. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT usage as academic infrastructure nonexistent. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Bricks and mortar the same. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Worse, larger societal implications of the web missed completely. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider economic & cultural impact of web. </li></ul>
  16. 16. A Technoeconomic Framework <ul><li>Place revolutions in framework of underlying causes. </li></ul><ul><li>The missed revolutions have been enabled by a number of technoeconomic effects: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Transport and communication improvements. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Transaction costs. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Network effects. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Understand these: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Puts past in perspective. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Helps project future trends. </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Transportation & Communications <ul><li>History of 20 th century history of faster, cheaper communication & transport. </li></ul><ul><li>Communications: mail  telegraph  telephone  fax  internet. </li></ul><ul><li>Transport: horse  train  auto  airplane  jet plane </li></ul><ul><li>Affects commerce directly: Example, Japanese onslaught of 70s facilitated by jet travel & faxes. </li></ul>
  18. 18. Ronald Coase & X-Costs <ul><li>Why has change been so relentless over past 50 years? </li></ul><ul><li>In institutional economics, a major determinant of organization size & structure are transaction costs. </li></ul><ul><li>Get up in morning and sell services to highest bidder? No, join organizations. </li></ul><ul><li>Using the free market is not free. </li></ul><ul><li>Relentless reduction in communication and transportation costs has reduced transaction costs over all of this century. </li></ul>Ronald H. Coase (b. 1910)
  19. 19. Arthur & Network Returns <ul><li>Reduced X-costs -> small is good: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Outsourcing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sticking to core competence as mantra. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Countervailing force: network returns: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telecommunications. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Operating systems. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interoperable search/advertising networks. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Big is better. </li></ul></ul>W. Brian Arthur
  20. 20. New World Technoeconomics <ul><li>X-costs/N-returns dominate internet world. </li></ul><ul><li>Globalization: Outsourcing a direct result of ease of travel and communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Microsoft & Google: Large returns to those who dominate network. </li></ul><ul><li>But key effect is on people & systems. </li></ul>
  21. 21. The Landscape of Os <ul><li>Often remarked that “hot” areas are the O’s: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>BiO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>NanO </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>InfO </li></ul></ul><ul><li>First two are different than the third. </li></ul><ul><li>And what about the missing O? </li></ul>
  22. 22. Science Push, Technology Pull <ul><li>Bio and Nano are science push fields: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Predominant mode of progress is new science pushing technological advance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Easy for cold warriors, what we are good at. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Info is technology pull, infrastructure enabling: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Science is not driving force. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT mode of progress is technology enabling technology advance. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT enables infrastructure that changes network speed and topology (and everything else). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>At root, users demand more and better technology (pull). </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. The Missing O <ul><li>Radically networked world is having profound cultural effects. </li></ul><ul><li>Postmodern systems engineering demands better understanding of HomO sapiens (let’s call it SociO). </li></ul><ul><li>Homo sapiens as engineering concern: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>QC: design for homo sapiens. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Postmodern systems: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design around HS: IT systems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design a HS: engineered </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Design like HS: Computational intelligence </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Homo sapiens as actor, object, and collective. </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Qual-Quant Divide <ul><li>Much knowledge about our species is not theoretically quantitative: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Philosophical. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Historical. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Spiritual. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mythical. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Statistical. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The schism of 1920: B-schools went one way, engineering another (Wharton, 1881, Harvard MBA, 1921). </li></ul>
  25. 25. Socio: Tech Pull, Humanities Push <ul><li>The gap between qual and quant HS knowledge is an invitation. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering knowledge requires quantification with models that can be used in design. </li></ul><ul><li>Requires reassessment of engineering canon in areas touching systems and the socio. </li></ul><ul><li>Invites generation of new knowledge through combination of technology pull & humanities push toward a new quantification. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Cold-War View of Humans <ul><li>During the Cold War, humans were an obstacle to the proper functioning of a system. </li></ul><ul><li>Tom Wolfe’s, The Right Stuff, plot: tension between pilots and techies who would eliminate them. </li></ul><ul><li>Cold War view: Humans are error in the loop, and error is to be eliminated. </li></ul>
  27. 27. Postmodern View of Humans <ul><li>In internet world, human beings are integral part of the system. </li></ul><ul><li>The major innovations of our time involve people in the loop as major actors: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google: Search as human preference machine. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MSOffice: PPT, Word, Excel as human productivity engine. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Postmodern view: Not error in the loop. Humans ARE the loop. </li></ul><ul><li>Brute facts of physics not dominant in postmodern systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What are the “physics” for Ebay? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What equations of motion govern Google? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What constitutive relations for MSOffice. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Aside: Ontology & Epistemology <ul><li>Need ontology (existence) and epistemology (knowledge) for times. </li></ul><ul><li>Postmodernists throw away truth (including physics). </li></ul><ul><li>Searle’s Construction of Social Reality does not: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Brute facts: mountains & meteors. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social facts: observer relative assignment of function (chairs). </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional facts: money, language, marriage, college degrees. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Many engineering artifacts today are institutional </li></ul>John R. Searle (b. 1932)
  29. 29. Intention and Innovation <ul><li>Prime mover of human systems is intentionality. </li></ul><ul><li>Human Innovation harnessed to match world-to-mind fit. </li></ul><ul><li>Need mechanistic understanding of these things. </li></ul><ul><li>Connection to research on genetic algorithms and genetics-based machine learning (GBML). </li></ul>
  30. 30. Future: A Conceptual Age? <ul><li>Daniel Pink outlines four ages: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Agricultural age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Industrial age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Information age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conceptual age </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Each age rewards different skill sets. </li></ul><ul><li>New conceptual age rewards right brain—creative thought—in place of analytical thought valued in information age. </li></ul><ul><li>Quibble: Creativity + analytical not Creativity replacing analytical. </li></ul>
  31. 31. The Three As <ul><li>Abundance : Widespread material wealth has devalued merely functional stuff. </li></ul><ul><li>Automation : Widespread automation has routinized many jobs & trend is spreading to accounting, law, & other knowledge work. </li></ul><ul><li>Asia : Low cost, highly skilled workers in India & China can do more for less than knowledge workers in US. </li></ul>
  32. 32. 6 Senses (Skills) for WNM <ul><li>Design : Beyond function to meaning. </li></ul><ul><li>Story : Beyond data to narrative. </li></ul><ul><li>Symphony : Beyond specialization to integration. </li></ul><ul><li>Empathy : Beyond logic to empathy. </li></ul><ul><li>Play : Beyond seriousness to lightheartedness, games, & humor. </li></ul><ul><li>Meaning : Beyond material plenty to transcendence & meaning. </li></ul>
  33. 33. Category Creators v. Enhancers <ul><li>Premium is on category creators —those who creates new categories of product and service. </li></ul><ul><li>This requires different skill set. </li></ul><ul><li>Right-brained thinking: integrative, creative, intuitive. </li></ul><ul><li>MFA + Engineer vs. MBA + Engineer. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Tech Visionary Research <ul><li>Recent studies at the University of Illinois. </li></ul><ul><li>Ray Price, Abbie Griffin, Bruce Vojak have studied the small number of individuals responsible for large amounts of new product business. </li></ul><ul><li>Variety of industries, consumer, low-tech, hi-tech. </li></ul><ul><li>Looking for common threads. </li></ul>Ray Price
  35. 35. Distinctive Findings of TV Research <ul><li>TV personality. </li></ul><ul><li>TVs as problem finders in customer needs. </li></ul><ul><li>TVs as amateur market researchers. </li></ul><ul><li>TVs as market penetrators. </li></ul><ul><li>TVs as consumate corporate insiders. </li></ul><ul><li>TVs as consumate modelers. </li></ul>
  36. 36. TV Personality <ul><li>Systems thinkers. </li></ul><ul><li>Perseveres. </li></ul><ul><li>Tolerance for ambiguity. </li></ul><ul><li>Action-oriented. </li></ul><ul><li>Emotional: passionate. </li></ul><ul><li>Curious. </li></ul><ul><li>Seeks challenges. </li></ul><ul><li>Accepts risk. </li></ul><ul><li>Self-aware & confident. </li></ul>
  37. 37. TVs as Problem Finders <ul><li>“Well there was this problem with being able to X.” </li></ul><ul><li>TVs universally start from interesting customer problems. </li></ul><ul><li>“When you come across an area where your customer says this is too difficult to do, that is a license to go into business.” </li></ul><ul><li>Customer pull, not tech push. </li></ul>
  38. 38. TVs as Market Researchers <ul><li>“Our idiots in marketing ran a survey.” </li></ul><ul><li>Importance of interacting directly with customers. </li></ul><ul><li>Understand that customers often cannot articulate their needs. </li></ul><ul><li>“What is much more interesting than what they say they want is their perception of their problem the way they say it.” </li></ul>
  39. 39. TVs as Market Pentrators <ul><li>TVs help seek customers. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They know there is a real problem. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can find customers even when “marketing” cannot. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Collecting customer problems for next gen: </li></ul><ul><li>“ I did go out and visit customers quite often…to help market our existing products by helping these people see how to use existing products and also at the same time, asking them for suggestions.” </li></ul>
  40. 40. TVs as Consumate Insiders <ul><li>Sell their ideas to others. </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on positive influencing actions: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Up/Down. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Laterally. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Externally. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>How? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Use facts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May create novel approaches. </li></ul></ul>
  41. 41. TVs Have Range of Modeling Skills <ul><li>TVs are consummate modelers: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Take data and model qualitatively. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Understand financial modeling and business feasibility. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Make necessary quantitative models for technical design. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Start from conceptual understanding of phenomenon. </li></ul><ul><li>Add complexity as needed. </li></ul><ul><li>Will reframe model to obtain different perspective. </li></ul>
  42. 42. How Do We Educate TVs of Future? <ul><li>Tech skill is not enough </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Broad personal, interpersonal, & organizational skill needed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creativity and creative modeling needed, too. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Two, one-hour, courses created at UIUC: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>TEE: The Entrepreneurial Engineer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MTV: Creative Modeling for Tech Visionaries. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider some distinctive elements of each. </li></ul>
  43. 43. TEE: A Course, Book & Blog <ul><li>TEE = The Entrepreneurial Engineer </li></ul><ul><li>TEE is </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A set of lectures </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A book </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A blog: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An attitude about the world we live in </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Fast-paced world is changing what engineers think and do. </li></ul>
  44. 44. Order 1, 2, & n Skills <ul><li>Engineering education concentrates on building technical competence. </li></ul><ul><li>Need many non-technical skills to be broadly competent: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Order 1: Personal skills. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Order 2: Interpersonal skills, between you and another. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Order n : Organizational skills, between you and the many. </li></ul></ul>
  45. 45. Ten Competencies <ul><li>The joy of engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Money & you: engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Time management </li></ul><ul><li>Write for your life </li></ul><ul><li>Present, don’t speak </li></ul><ul><li>The human side of engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Ethics in matters small, large, and engineering </li></ul><ul><li>Master the pervasive team </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations and leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Technology opportunity assessment </li></ul>
  46. 46. Creative Modeling for Tech Visionaries <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Models of creativity </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorming </li></ul><ul><li>What is a model? What is a TV? </li></ul><ul><li>Construction of engineering reality. </li></ul><ul><li>2 techniques from Athens </li></ul><ul><li>Visualization and napkintalk </li></ul><ul><li>Canonical models </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Qual-quant shift </li></ul><ul><li>Little models </li></ul><ul><li>Tales from the trenches. </li></ul><ul><li>Squeezing little models. </li></ul><ul><li>Mixed, patched, and meta-models </li></ul>
  47. 47. Need for Creative Modeling <ul><li>Creation of new products requires return to basics. </li></ul><ul><li>New product creation demands: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Asking and answering the right questions. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Language to discuss features. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dimensionalization of product space. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rough quantification. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Little quantitative models of essential product functions. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stick with qualitative for now. </li></ul>
  48. 48. What Examples of New Thought? <ul><li>Clearest examples are from philosophy. </li></ul><ul><li>Presocratic  Socrates  Plato  Aristotle. </li></ul><ul><li>Mechanisms of the new thought: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Socratic dialectic </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Aristotelian data mining </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Crossing the qual-quant divide. </li></ul><ul><li>Style of little models from Design of Innovation. </li></ul>Socrates (470-399 BCE)
  49. 49. Facebook
  50. 50. Optimal Teams: Deciding & Doing <ul><li>Dichotomy, in Simon’s Administrative Behavior. </li></ul><ul><li>Non-dimensional form: </li></ul>
  51. 51. Bottom Line <ul><li>From cold war to the Internet: Technoeconomic analysis & why we are where are. </li></ul><ul><li>Landscape of Os, the missing O, & postmodern systems engineering. </li></ul><ul><li>Tech visionaries & how to make one. </li></ul><ul><li>2 short courses for our times: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Entrepreneurial Engineer. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creative modeling for tech visionaries. </li></ul></ul>
  52. 52. More Information <ul><li>TEE, the book. </li></ul><ul><li>TEE, the blog. </li></ul><ul><li>TEE, the course. </li></ul><ul><li>MTV, the course. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering and Technology Studies at Illinois (ETSI) ). </li></ul><ul><li>2007 Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering (WPE) http://www- </li></ul><ul><li>Illinois Genetic Algorithms Lab </li></ul>