It is a long and winding road from invention to innovation. Starting from this observation, this paper presents a historical perspective on the capabilities engineers should possess to do their work. The importance of the ‘communicative competence’ involved in creating a social base for innovation is underpinned. We will present a theoretical framework with regard to engineering and society and argue that this competence requires a good understanding of the social dynamics of technology as well as the ability to communicate on the level of facts, values and emotions. Three particular skills are extensively discussed: orientation on the future and the abilities involved in dialogue and cultural differences. We will argue that engineers can develop this new competence through project learning.
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