The aim of the Educate to Innovate project is to expand and improve the innovative capacity of individuals and organizations by identifying critical skills, attributes, and best practices - indeed, cultures - for nurturing them. The project findings will enable educators in industry and at all levels of academia to cultivate the next generation of American innovators and thus ensure that the U.S. workforce remains highly competitive in the face of rapid technological changes. Educate to Innovate summarizes the keynote and plenary presentations from a workshop convened in October 2013. The workshop brought together innovators and leaders from various fields to share insights on innovation and its education. This report continues on to describe the specific skills, experiences, and environments that contribute to the success of innovators, and suggests next steps based on discussion from the workshop.
The United States is facing a crisis in its engineering workforce just as global competition is becoming very intense. During the next several years there will be massive retirements of skilled and experiences engineers, and the United States has one of the lowest rates of graduation of bachelor-level engineers in the world: only 4.5 percent of our university graduates are engineers. The issue is especially acute in the national security industry because of citizenship requirements. Perhaps even more critical, the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, making the specifics of engineering education and skill development obsolete in short order. A critical part of our corporate and national strategy to address this looming crisis should be to ramp up the quality of engineers' professional life, improve their capacity to innovate, and widen their fields of opportunity.
A project-framing workshop was organized by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in partnership with the National Academy of Engineering in June 2009 to examine the issues relevant to lifelong learning in engineering. A UIUC research team then conducted a survey-based assessment of the issues identified in the 2009 workshop. Preliminary findings from the UIUC study were examined more fully. Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering reflects the opinions of the authors based on the UIUS team's survey analysis and learning from the discussions at the 2011 workshop.