WHAT are the skills, experiences, and environments necessary for innovation?
HOW do we build these environments to enhance the experiences and skills of students?
The United States led the world’s economies in the 20th century because we led the world in innovation. Today, the competition is keener; the challenge is tougher; and that is why innovation is more important than ever … That’s how we will ensure a high quality of life for this generation and future generations.
- President Barack Obama
To remain a global innovation leader, the U.S. must significantly enhance its innovation capacities and abilities; improving the capacity of individuals and organizations to innovate must be a high-priority national project. Our universities are excellent at teaching the basic sciences and technologies which are essential for innovation. And, several university programs focus on entrepreneurship, which helps translate innovation into marketable realities. But very little education is offered that fills “the innovation gap” between these two ends of the process that brings new products and services to the market.
We believe that innovation can be taught and, through this project, we attempt to fill “the innovation gap”, i.e., understand the content of innovation courses and experiences and how to build the environments to provide those.
The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has partnered with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in this project that will identify the factors (skills/traits, experiences, and environments) that are critical for the success of innovators and explore best practices for inculcating those in STEM students.