T-shaped engineers for interdisciplinary innovation: an attractive perspective for young people as well as a must for innovative organisations

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Abstract

Globalization, accelerating technological advancements and the increasing unpredictability and demanding nature of clients have a major impact on the context in which companies operate. Companies are compelled to create a stream of innovations, both technological and organizational, in order to adapt to the continuously changing environment. In addition companies will more and more innovate in collaboration with clients, competitors and research institutes, ever more in an international context. Looking at the Netherlands though, the innovative capacity is lagging behind. One of the underlying problems is the lack of technical background and research experience in company management. Another is the low availability of higher educated personnel with a scientific or technical background, thereby creating a vicious circle. A well-prepared engineering workforce is necessary that is able to collaborate in interdependent relationships and that can manage multiple innovation projects. It demands a T-shaped engineer that has in-depth knowledge of one discipline and a broad knowledge base in adjacent areas or in general business or entrepreneurial fields. Nevertheless, this profile will not be created by regular education. Interaction with the work field-with entrepreneurs, researchers and experts-and between students will enable the necessary learning experiences. One of the programmes that the University of Applied Science, School of Technology, has created to accommodate this, is 'The Innovation Lab'. In this highly interactive environment engineering students with various backgrounds (mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, product design and entrepreneurship) work together in interdisciplinary project teams on current innovation ideas and assignments of real companies. The Innovation Lab will serve as an example in this presentation on how the University of Applied Science, School of Technology, is preparing students for a future in innovative organizations. With a T-shaped profile young engineers are better prepared to act successfully in an open innovation environment and can bring technology back in company management. Moreover, this versatility will make technology and design education more attractive for scholars that are faced with a choice for technology education.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAttracting young people to engineering : engineering is fun! : proceedings of the 37th SEFI conference 2009, Juli 1-4, World Trade Centre Rotterdam - Delft University of Technology
EditorsMaartje van den Bogaard, Erik de Graaff, Gillian Saunders-Smits
Place of PublicationDelft
PublisherUniversity of Technology
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9782873520014
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventSEFI 37th Annual Conference 2009 - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 1 Jul 20094 Jul 2009

Conference

ConferenceSEFI 37th Annual Conference 2009
CountryNetherlands
CityRotterdam
Period1/07/094/07/09

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