2000 Lectureship Recipient

Stuart W. Churchill

Department of Chemical Engineering

University of Pennsylvania

April 27, 2000

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"Can We Teach Our Students to be Innovative?"

Full Churchill Lectureship.pdf

Progress in the practice of chemical engineering, as well as in all related fields, occurs more rapidly and more profoundly by virtue of discovery and innovation, and thereby in discrete steps, then by systematic incremental improvements. If our students are going to advance the practice of our profession, not just be participants, they must become discoverers and innovators. Genius is not required, only the proper environment and mindset.

It is of course easier to impart the science and art of engineering to our students than to teach them to innovate. Discovery and innovation are not programmable and are thereby difficult to formalize, but we can stimulate innovative thinking by creating an atmosphere in the classroom, conference room and laboratory in which it is encouraged, welcomed and rewarded. My presentation is based on two sets of experiences: first, those of the greatest innovators, because they provide guidance and inspiration; and second, those of my own students because I know the intricacies of their failures and successes.