ENGR305-H01: Fundamentals of Innovation Theory and Practice

ENGR 305-H01: Fundamentals of Innovation Theory and Practice is taught by Professor Joe Sinfield, the Director of the Institute for Innovation Science. This 3 credit course introduces you to the fundamental patterns and methods of innovation through the study and application of emerging innovation techniques that address technological, economic, and societal challenges. You will join a cross-disciplinary team to design solutions to a series of socio-technical challenges, in an experiential learning setting, addressing the full breadth of functional, social, and emotional factors that shape use and adoption of your solution. Through case discussions of historical and contemporary innovations, you will learn how to identify opportunities and design, test, and iterate solutions. By the end of the course, you will understand and effectively use techniques from many fields, such as business, design, problem-solving, engineering, and social sciences.

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ENGR49001 (or CE59801): Breakthrough Thinking for Complex Challenges

Breakthrough Thinking for Complex Challenges is a 3-credit, experiential learning course which is typically taken in the final year of the Minor in Innovation and Transformational Change. In this course, you have the opportunity to reflect on the collection of courses that you have pursued for the Minor and selectively apply key learning from these experiences to a real-world challenge in an action-oriented group problem solving setting. The course focuses on developing solutions to major challenges - often referred to as complex problems, grand challenges, or wicked problems.  These categories of problems require solutions that span technical, economic, social, and cultural domains and thus impede approaches derived from only one perspective.  This course will enable you to apply methods from varying fields and integrate differing ways of thinking to frame major challenges and design and advance holistic solutions.  You will have the opportunity to engage in problem exploration and participatory design in close partnership with an external organization.  This experience will help you put your knowledge into practice and develop adaptive expertise.  Conceived solutions must incorporate not only means to address technical challenges, but also aspects of stakeholder education and awareness, cultural adoption, resource availability and access, economic and operational sustainability, and governance. Collectively, co-designing holistic solutions inclusive of all of the aforementioned components, in collaboration with involved stakeholders, will help you build critical awareness and skills consistent with the College’s vision to prepare Purdue engineers for leadership roles in the 21st century.

Course projects vary year-to-year depending upon the portfolio of needs on- and off-campus that are being addressed more broadly in the Innovation and Leadership Studies Program. The course is typically offered in the Spring semester.  Enquire at to learn more about the focal problem of the course this year.

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CE59601: Entrepreneurship and Business Strategy in Engineering

In this 3-credit course you will have the opportunity to learn and apply the core skills required to build and grow engineering- and technology-based businesses through lecture, case discussions, and weekly activities tied to a semester-long team project. Course content includes market analysis techniques to link technology attributes to opportunity and vice versa, combinatorial business design and planning methods, strategic innovation theories, competitive analysis, methods of emergent strategy and risk mitigation, as well as examination of team building, firm influence and navigation, and organizational design principles. Emphasis throughout is placed on the implications of research and development uncertainty, long-lifecycle economics, and the management of subcontracts and multi-disciplinary teams often encountered when developing and delivering complex engineering outputs. Case studies are used to contrast the challenges faced when creating new businesses (entrepreneurial) with those encountered in attempts to grow an existing enterprise (intrapreneurial). through deep engagement in coursework and project activities you will also develop business acumen, and skills in conceptual thinking, synthesis, and persuasive communication. This course is particularly relevant for engineering students intending to progress into managerial roles in technology or R&D driven organizations.

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IDE48500: Multidisciplinary Engineering Design Project

This course, specifically for students in the Multidisciplinary Engineering program, offers an integrated content spine bringing together interdisciplinarity, design, teamwork, and professional practice concepts and strategies. Students work in teams on industry-sourced design projects and present their work over the term through Project Milestone Reviews that parallel professional workplace practice. Teams of 3-5 students will conduct research that integrates diverse perspectives to identify a relevant human or social need and then proceed through multiple project milestone reviews to validate this need, establish performance requirements, and deliver a desirable, feasible, viable, and sustainable solution with evidence validating requirements are met.

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MSE57400: Sports Technology and Entrepreneurship


ENGR49001 - Past Project Case Example: Providing Potable Water in the Rural Dominican Republic

Almost 800 million people world-wide lack access to clean water. Students in the pilot of the Innovation Practicum addressed this problem holistically in rural Dominican Republic by partnering with students in another course at Purdue, CE 597: Water Supply in Developing Countries. For two semesters, students utilized systematic innovation methods and techniques to: 


Understand the comprehensive set of issues that define the success of any water system
Uncover hidden assumptions in current and prior attempts to provide potable water to those in need
Map complex relationships among community members, local and national organizations, and the forces that shape the acquisition, delivery, perception, and awareness of water and sanitation
Identify potential partnerships and conflicts in the water provision ecosystem based on stakeholders' motivations
Document circumstances specific to rural Dominican Republic that would affect the solution, such as intermittent electricity, significant wealth disparity among residents, and the cultural importance of extended family
Integrate solution components into comprehensive, system-level solutions that simultaneously address all key issues across technical, economic, social, and cultural domains

These system-level solutions are now ready for rapid in-field testing, refinement, and eventual implementation.