For engineering companies striving to be competitive in today’s economy, it is essential that innovation is the crux of their strategy and decision making process. Engineering designers are constantly pushed to develop new and innovative solutions to design problems yet there has been little research on what actually motivates these designers, both intrinsically and extrinsically, to be innovative. Similarly, engineering students working on their capstone design project are pushed to develop solutions to innovative design problems. The purpose of this paper is to present the initial findings of an innovation survey of Mechanical Engineering students at Clemson University.

This paper will discuss the importance of innovation, the current state of innovation, the surveys that were created, the results of said survey, and how this information will be used going forward to improve performance and motivation in capstone design classes. The purpose of this survey is to determine which motivational factors engineering students perceive to be the most effective when working on innovative design projects. The initial results showed that (1) making an “A” grade in the class, (2) developing an “elegant” solution, and (3) making professional contacts with the industry sponsors were the three factors that most effectively promoted innovative design. Conversely, (1) impressing peers, (2) making professional contacts with the fellow students, and (3) winning cash prizes were the three factors that least effectively promoted innovative design.

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