A survey of 50 companies, done in Spring 2005 by Dr. Boult at UCCS, is briefly summarized; full details are available upon request or by visitingwww.vast.uccs.edu/~tboult/BI/survey-results.html. (Note the survey includes components not discussed here. Here the most relevant components for the BI family are addressed.)
This summary implements the Likert scale “agreement type questions,” where survey users answered using a scale of 1-5, with 1 being strongly disagree, 3= neutral and 5= strongly agree. If the mean is statistically significantly greater than 3, we accept the hypothesis, if it is significantly less than 3, we reject it; and if it is not significantly distinguishable from neutral we cannot accept or reject the hypothesis. We apply 1-sided T-tests to the hypothesis and consider p=0.05 or 95% confidence as the criterion to either accept or reject the hypothesis as statistically significant and 99.9% or better as very significant.
Dr. Boult’s survey was sent to email lists from the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the UCCS Business recruiting list, the Rocky Mountain Technology Alliance (RMTA) members, and the Colorado Institute for Technology Transfer and Implementation (CITTI) mailing lists. Lists used were generally Colorado-Springs centric, but at least 15% of those surveyed came from other parts of the Front Range. Fifty (50) distinct people completed the survey. They came from various backgrounds and positions and less than 20% of those who reported degree information hold engineering degrees.
Key questions about need/demand for Bachelors of InnovationTM students and students with multi-year multi-disciplinary team experience were accepted at a very significant level (99.9999999%), as was the need for new accredited programs. According to the survey, the total expected number (per-year) of hires across the proposed BI majors was 60.
Surveys asked for input about the current UCCS students compared to those from other schools. The hypothesis about current students/majors, “I would generally choose a UCCS BS/BA graduate over a BS/BA from other schools such as CU Boulder,” was rejected at the 98.8% (p=0.0112) significance level; which demonstrates that even in a Colorado-Springs biased sample, current UCCS students are not the preferred choice.
However, when asked if they would agree with the following statement: “I would generally choose a UCCS BI graduate over a BS/BA from other schools such as CU Boulder,” the hypothesis was accepted at the very significant 99.95% (p=0.0005) level; and when asked to agree with the additional statement: “I would be unlikely to hire a UCCS BI student,” the hypothesis was rejected at the very significant 99.998% (p=0.00002) level. These responses strongly suggest that new BI degree students will be more employable than current UCCS graduates and that new degrees will be accepted by industry. Of course, companies will continue to hire traditional degree students as well, but traditional students are produced by many schools. BI majors are distinctive to UCCS and will providing students a competitive edge, both in the short and long term job market.
Another statement: “Including the Innovation core is not important, an Engineering with Business minor would be sufficient,” was rejected at the very significant 99.9998% level. This outcome strongly suggests that innovation components are viewed as critical, and provide marketable differentiation of the proposed programs from conventional engineering and business programs.
Additionally, the following support/involvement question: “I would be interested in being a corporate partner for one of the innovation teams. My company would likely be willing to fund (hire) an innovation team to address our problems,” resulted in a positive response from 12 companies, suggesting there is a base from which to attract enough partners to make student/company team projects and the overall BI program work.
Comparatively, UCCS has strong and balanced undergraduate and graduate programs. In both the 2006 and 2007 editions of U.S. News and World Report, UCCS ranked in the top tier of all public and private master’s universities in the West. Masters universities provide a full range of undergraduate and master’s degree programs. UCCS has only two Ph.D. programs; one of which is a long-established program in Engineering.
In the 2007 college rankings edition, “America’s Best Colleges,” released Aug. 21, 2006, UCCS ranked seventh among top public Western masters universities. In the 2006 edition, UCCS ranked eight.
More significant for new Bachelor of InnovationTM degrees, in the same 2007 edition of “America’s Best Colleges”, the undergraduate engineering program at UCCS earned a ranking of 3.2, ranking the program 16th among public and private universities and seventh among public universities, including military service academies. Again, this ranking is nationwide among masters universities, and not merely a regional rating. National rankings show UCCS has a sufficient reputation to initiate and sustain this novel initiative embodied in the BI program.
In addition, the UCCS campus is very active in technology transfer, which is an important part of the innovation process. The university has a history of offering courses in technology. With three endowed chairs focused on technology transfer and innovation and an extremely high ratio of invention disclosures, the UCCS faculty is ideally situated to define and lead innovation teams. Dr. Boult, the El Pomar Chair in Communications and Computation, has been extremely active with the federally-sponsored Small Business Innovation Research grant program. He provides courses and support across the state on these proposals. These include involving multi-year, multi-disciplinary undergraduate students in both the proposal preparation process as well as doing the actual work on the contracts with successful companies. These SBIRS/STTRs, totaling more than $3 Million in funding for various companies and the university, are also directly in line with BI program goals of community engagement. With this type of record, there will be no difficulty attracting the corporate partners needed for the teams. Innovation teams are not something we are hoping will work, they are the formalization and extension of the ongoing process Dr. Boult has already been using in his own efforts at UCCS. Additionally, companies partnered on existing SBIR/STTRs with UCCS have commented positively about the quality of student teams and their slight surprise to learn that many team members were undergraduates; because based on their behavior and production output companies presumed participating students were graduate students.