W ith my colleague Scott Hutcheson, I’ve been working with Stanford and the National Collegiate Inventors and Educators Alliance (NCIIA) on the NSF-funded Epicenter project, specifically the Pathways to Innovation component. Tom Byers from Sanford and others authored an article for Summer 2013 issue of The Bridge, a publication of the National Academy of Engineering, that outlined this project.

Our role in this project is in working with the university teams by providing them training and technical assistance on Strategic Doing. The first cohort of 12 university teams is currently using Strategic Doing to create and guide their work to transform the undergrad engineering experience on their campuses to include a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship.

We will continue collaborating with Stanford and NCIIA as we move on to the next cohorts next year. This next group will include 24 universities. Within each university, we confront complex systems that we need to transform. Before the fact, we have only hypotheses to guide us. Launching pathfinder projects, the same approach as “rapid prototyping” is the best way to generate the evidence we need to design the new systems we want.

My impetus to engage with this project is part of our broader work of regional economic transformation focused on innovation and entrepreneurship as the drivers of regional economic growth. Universities serve as vital hubs for that transformation. Innovative undergraduate engineering programs can play a transformative role in strengthening these regional innovation ecosystems.

Ed Morrison is Director of the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. He is also an adjunct professor at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. For the past five or six years, he has been developing new, agile approaches to strategy in open, loosely joined networks, a discipline he calls Strategic Doing. Prior to starting his economic development work, Ed worked for Telesis, a corporate strategy consulting firm. In this position, he served on consulting teams for clients such as Ford Motor Company, Volvo, and General Electric. He conducted manufacturing cost studies in the U.S., Japan, Mexico, Canada, Italy, Sweden, and France. Ed started his professional career in Washington, D.C., where he has served as a legislative assistant to an Ohio Congressman, staff attorney in the Federal Trade Commission, and staff counsel in the US Senate. He holds a BA degree cum laude with honors from Yale University and MBA and JD degrees from the University of Virginia.

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