November 4, 2015

Educating Innovators: Are We Achieving the Goal?



It is hard to avoid media hype about the nation’s need for more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) graduates with innovative problem solving skills.  While there has been a substantial amount of research on professionals with innovative skills in industry, there is very little known about what experiences students have in college that move the needle on individual innovativeness.  Are the experiences and opportunities we provide for our students at Lyle really making them more innovative? Can we graduate more innovative students?  Is it possible to measure a student’s capacity to innovate? Answers to these and other questions will be the focus of today’s presentation that makes us wonder curiously:  Are We Achieving the Goal?

Mark Fontenot Mark Fontenot is a clinical professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in the Lyle School and is founding faculty-in-residence of Loyd Residential Commons at SMU.  His research in engineering education focuses on understanding and measuring the individual innovative capacity of undergraduate students.  Fontenot oversees the multidisciplinary senior design experience in collaboration with other faculty in Lyle and teaches classes in software design and development, as well as database systems.

Professor Fontenot has been the recipient of various teaching awards at SMU including:  Peruna Professor of the Year (2014), Provost’s Teaching Recognition Award (inaugural recipient in 2013), Rotunda Professor of the Year Award (2012), H.O.P.E. Professor of the Year Award (2008), and Outstanding Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering Award (2006-2014).

Fontenot received his B.S. in computer science from McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana, and his M.S. in computer science from Southern Methodist University.