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Role of Engineering in Tnnovation- and Knowledge-Based Economies

In facing today’s globalized environment, the focus on maintaining or transforming into a innovation and knowledge-based economy has been significant in many countries. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) defines the innovation and knowledge-based economies (iKBEs) as “economies, which are directly based on the production, distribution and use of knowledge and information” (Embracing Scientific and Technological Changes, nd). In view of that, iKBE is considered to play a vital role in creating wealth, improving the general well-being of citizens and fostering growth (APEC 2000). Accordingly, innovation and knowledge are found to be a necessity for creating values and outpacing wealth and ultimately strengthening the economic base of a country (Economic Importance of Engineers 2009). To facilitate the realization of knowledge, one key driver is to invest in human capital (Clausen 2004). Therefore, an advanced education system is critical for leading this transformation process, not only in motivating and preparing people to create, use, and disseminate knowledge, but also to support innovation and technology, which are at the core of iKBEs. Proper and effective engineering education represents a powerful engine that produces engineers with the required knowledge and skills for addressing future challenges and meeting the demanded growth in Qatar (Qatar National Development Strategy 2011). Because of the diverse nature of the engineering profession, engineering education should prepare graduates with adaptable skills that fit a wide range of operational, managerial, and/or technical-oriented careers ranging across multiple sectors of the whole economy (David and Foray 2002). Innovation-driven economy is considered the highest level of economic development, where countries focus on the development and use of cutting edge technology, acquiring the best talent, grooming them, and retaining them to excel in value addition through innovation within and outside the nation. The use of cutting edge technology and expertise refers to what we call the emphasis on Innovation and Knowledge Based Economy (iKBE).

The cornerstone role of technology and engineering in driving iKBEs, the industry needs, and the emergence of the engineering and technology profession has led to a significant number of studies, efforts, and investigations for identifying the needed engineering talent in the twenty-first century (NAE 2004, 2005; Jamieson et al. 2009; Mena et al. 2012; Hundley et al. 2012; Knight 2012; Spinks et al. 2006; Bourn and Neal 2008). In the Middle East, the GCC, and Qatar, an investigation similarly has not been conducted; hence, this study sheds important perspectives on bridging an empirical gap in the literature and contributing to better design of future engineering education in Qatar.

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