Social innovation skills development in project-based capstone classes in civil engineering : a case study of the civil engineering program at the University of Missouri Kansas City
Engineering schools play a key role in developing students' skills to appeal to an increasingly socially responsible job market. To do so, engineering educators must teach future professionals "social innovation skills": the ability to identify a community's social needs and transform this information into innovative technical solutions. This study explored to what extent do engineering students exhibit social innovation skills in an industry-driven capstone project in the program of civil engineering at a Midwestern research-intensive institution. A qualitative case study was used on a civil engineering capstone design class where data collection included interviews, document review, and thematic analysis. The results suggest new directions for future research, such as integrating community engagement and learning the structure of the government as platforms to facilitating social innovation skill learning among engineering students. I proposed the new concept of Engineering Social Innovation Skills: complex social problem solving, integrated skills to interact with communities, creativity to address social needs, and community-driven systems thinking. "Social impact" was found as a critical element to foster social innovation skill learning. This dissertation offers insights into potential curriculum improvement for engineering capstone classes and suggests new avenues for future research and career opportunities.