Strategic Innovation concentration addresses evolution of technology-driven change

The residential Master of Engineering Management graduate program launched the new concentration in 2021.

Purdue University’s industry-focused residential Master of Engineering Management graduate program launched a new Strategic Innovation concentration in 2021 in order to readily address the continuous evolution of technology-driven change.

Group of students in front of building
The Fall 2022 cohort for the program.

The focus of the Strategic Innovation concentration, which serves to enhance Purdue’s reputation as a global thought leader in innovation across higher education institutions, is to help business professionals build an understanding of innovation at the intersection of technology and business. Offered at the University’s flagship campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, applications are now being considered for Spring 2023 and Fall 2023 admission to this highly competitive program.

Joseph Sinfield, professor of civil engineering and director of the College of Engineering Innovation and Leadership Studies Program at Purdue University, is leading the curriculum’s formation. Core courses for the Strategic Innovation concentration include “Breakthrough Thinking for Complex Challenges” and “Entrepreneurship and Business Strategy in Engineering.” 

Beyond the two foundational courses, the concentrations curriculum is designed to ensure that students build fundamental knowledge in each of three primary phases of innovative activity:

  • ENVISION - Problem Framing and Contextualization
  • SHAPE - Solution Conceptualization, Exploration and Development
  • PURSUE - Trial, Adoption, and Impact Realization

Students draw on robust technical coursework from the College of Engineering; content on human behavior, human-centered design and decision making from the College of Liberal Arts, College of Science and Krannert School of Management; and courses focused specifically on business and technology innovation developed through the Institute of Innovation Science.

Joseph Sinfield, professor in civil engineering and director of the College of Engineering Innovation and Leadership Studies Program at Purdue University

Whether it be high tech companies in aerospace or semiconductors or consumer goods retailers that rely on advanced data analytics to manage their supply chain and fulfill customer needs, businesses increasingly require leaders with the technological understanding of engineers.

“Our compelling Strategic Innovation concentration addresses an increasing need in the business sector for leaders capable of driving growth in enterprises that are engaged in technology-based activity," said Eric VandeVoorde, senior director for Professional Master’s Programs in Engineering. 

This trend is unlikely to slow down. Evidence indicates that technology has steadily decreased the lifespan of major enterprises, like those on the S&P 500, over the last 50 years from roughly 67 years in the 1920s to under 15 years today.

“In industry, innovation is a key source of leadership and differentiated competitive advantage. Methods to achieve innovation, particularly in light of the rapid technology-driven changes occurring across industry sectors, are continuously evolving,” Sinfield said.

Businesses in this environment need leaders who not only understand technology but who also understand innovation and are capable of guiding enterprises to realize continuous growth in an increasingly technical and complex competitive environment.

The College of Engineering has tangibly demonstrated commitment to the field of innovation for many years, having launched the Innovation and Leadership Studies Program in 2017 and the John Martinson Entrepreneurial Center in 2020. The Strategic Innovation concentration extends this commitment by focusing on education of practicing professionals.

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