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Engineering Distinguished Lecture

About this event

Education in the Innovation Economy
presented by

Curtis R. Carlson, Ph.D.
President and CEO
SRI International

Innovation is now the primary path to growth, prosperity, environmental sustainability, and security.   We live in the innovation economy.  It is potentially a period of great abundance.  But that will only be true if we can see the opportunities in front of us and have the skills to develop them. 

The innovation economy has three main properties:

1. Rapidly improving technological progress in most fields, which is often exponential as achieved with computers, communications, genomics, media, and now education.

2. An abundance of opportunities because this rapid technological progress opens up one major business opportunity after another.

3. Intense and dramatically increasing global competition and huge new markets.

Although every major field is open to unprecedented opportunity, this is also the most competitive time.  Unfortunately most are doing a fair to poor job at innovation today.  We can do better.

In previous eras we taught subjects matched to society's needs, such as animal husbandry, drafting, and computer programming.  These subjects have not gone away; they are now parts of more specialized academic disciplines.  In the innovation economy, to create the human capital required, we now need to teach the fundamentals of innovation. 

The properties of the innovation economy and our relatively poor performance are described.  Then some of the fundamental concepts and practices required for systematic innovative success are outlined-i.e., innovation as a discipline.  Examples are given of schools and universities, both here and abroad, that are providing their students with this new curriculum.  Finally, recent positive digital algebra results are given, which foretell the advent of digital math and science and the prospect for sophisticated digital intelligent tutors.  Significant segments of education are migrating to a digital math, science, and innovation curriculum.