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Title: Introducing Innovation to First-Year STEM Students through an Intercession Course
Innovation training is considered critical for the future of our country, yet despite the important role, opportunities for students to develop innovation skills are limited. For STEM students, training in innovation principles and processes are frequently extra curricular pursuits, such as unpaid internships with start up organizations, shadowing innovation professionals, or obtaining an additional business degree or minor covering innovation principles. The National Science Foundation has funded the authors with a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S STEM) grant to provide scholarships combined with research on best practices for recruitment, retention, and development of innovation skills for a diverse group of low income undergraduate students. Students in the program come from STEM disciplines in engineering and the physical sciences however, business students are also integrated into innovation courses although they are not funded by the S STEM grant Design, development, and implementation of the grant funded program’s first innovation related course, a 2 week fall intercession course will be presented Th is first year course is designed to provide the students with an introduction to innovation, develop and nurture the students’ innovation mindset and skills, and also help the students’ successful transition to college. The first-year two-week intercession course was designed and developed with two credit hours focusing on content related to innovation and one credit hour focusing on student success topics. The significant academic course components included: 1) interactive active-learning modules related to innovation processes, identifying where good ideas come from, working in teams, leadership, project management, and communication and presentation skills; 2) team innovation projects, one topic-assigned, applying skills learned in the content modules to develop innovation and team collaboration skills; and 3) integration of business students with STEM students which together gives viewpoints and experiences on product and customer needs. It is important to our nation’s health and safety to instill innovation in our students. In addition, today’s students are interested in innovation and in learning how to apply innovation techniques in their professional and personal lives. The course was designed for teams of four STEM students to one business student which provides a balanced input needed for this type of project taking into account the skillset of the technically oriented STEM students and the marketing-oriented business students, as well as personality types. This ensures that all voices are heard, and topical areas are addressed. There was no problem in getting faculty interest in developing the course, and the collaboration between retention professionals and faculty went well. After the course, an iterative improvement retrospective will be performed on the program as implemented to this point to inform improvements for next year’s cohort. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 2030297. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.  more » « less
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2021 ASEE Midwest Section Conference Proceedings
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National Science Foundation
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