INNOVATE: Preparing Technical Graduates for the Global Workplace
Engineering is only in part a matter of designing more sophisticated technology. Issues such as the digital divide between developed and developing countries, information privacy, and intellectual property are a few examples of how engineering practiced in an international context also raises concerns about its social impact. If technology is a key driver for globalization, universities have a particular obligation to prepare technical graduates to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global context.
This paper considers the experiences of students participating in the INNOVATE conference, a symposium that takes place in Asia and involves 54 students from the US, Japan, Singapore, China, and Europe in the study of globalization and technology. Student delegates spend ten days in two different countries, participating in professional visits to different companies and meetings with key business and government leaders. The symposium considers four themes:
• Relationship between Academia, Government, and Industry (e.g. government role in encouraging development of new industries);
• Technical Innovation (e.g. entrepreneurship, development of new technology considered within a cultural context);
• Ethical Obligations of Technology Use and Leadership (e.g. privacy of personal data; digital divide);
• Effective Global Leadership(e.g., problem solving in non-Western countries).
This paper will present research on how participation in this international, interdisciplinary conference affects students’ attitudes towards technology. In particular, we will present the results of a study that indicate how INNOVATE increased student participants’ understanding of the societal implications of technology (particularly in terms of social welfare); affected the participants' attitudes toward the responsible use and development of technology; and motivated the student participants to engage in behaviors related to leadership in technical fields. The researchers conclude with curricular recommendations for providing technical students the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.
Keywords: Globalization and Technology, Engineering Education, Ethics and Technology, Leadership, Technology and Society
Dr. Cheryl Matherly
Assistant Dean of Students for Career and International Education, Office of International Programs, Rice University
Mr. J. Patrick Frantz
Executive Director, Center for Wireless Communications, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Rice University
Ms. Stacey Turner
Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Rice University
International Practicum Coordinator, Georgia Institute of Technology
field of international education with a specialization in international technical internships for the past four years.