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Competencies for Innovating in the 21st Century

[+] Author Affiliations
Zahed Siddique, Janet K. Allen, Farrokh Mistree

University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Jitesh Panchal

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Dirk Schaefer

Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA

Sammy Haroon

The RBR Group, Chapel Hill, NC

Paper No. DETC2012-71170, pp. 185-196; 12 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 9th International Conference on Design Education; 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4506-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


This is the first paper in a four-part series focused on a competency-based approach for personalized education in a group setting. In this paper, we focus on identifying the competencies and meta-competencies required for the 21st century engineers. These competencies are the ability to be able perform a specific task, action or function successfully. In the second paper, we provide an overview of an approach to developing competencies needed for the fast changing world and allowing the students to be in charge of their own learning. The approach fosters “learning how to learn” in a collaborative environment. We believe that two of the core competencies required for success in the dynamically changing workplace are the abilities to identify and manage dilemmas. In the third paper, we discuss our approach for helping students learn how to identify dilemmas in the context of an energy policy design problem. The fourth paper is focused on approaches to developing the competency to manage dilemmas associated with the realization of complex, sustainable, socio-techno-eco systems.

A deep understanding of innovation-related competencies will be required if we are to meet the needs of our graduates in preparing them for the challenges of the 21st century. In recent years development of competencies for innovation, especially in engineering, has received signification attention. The nature of innovation and its components needs to be identified and analyzed to determine proper ways to nurture and develop them in engineering students.

There are two levels of competencies in any professional field, field-specific task competencies, and generalized skill sets, or meta-competencies. The task-specific competencies are benchmarks for graduates in a given field. Their level of attainment defines how well graduates are prepared to meet job demands and excel in the future. The general (meta) competencies are skill sets that enable them to function more globally, such as to work with others, function in organizations and meet organizational demands, and transfer task-specific skills to new challenges they have not encountered before.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME
Topics: Competencies



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