Teaching methods for calculation and project development, focusing on theoretical principles and the reproduction of validated procedures, has been the traditional focus of engineering education. Innovation has been present in universities, mainly in the creation of processes and technologies for the development of products, services, or companies, based on entrepreneurship. Training in innovation has been limited to interested students, and not encouraged for all students, despite how relevant it is for current and future global development. According to the literature research and the opinion of the experts, this research identifies the characteristics of innovation that engineering students should acquire, in response to the challenges of engineering in the 21st century, considering as a basis the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in the context of the increasingly demanding requirements of industry 4.0. The identification of the relevant aspects in innovation were categorized according to the expertise and academic performance of the authors. In addition to this, the investigation of the representative elements of Industry 4.0, and the incorporation of Sustainable Development Goals, establish the basis of this study to guide the development of innovation skills in the process of engineering student education. Furthermore, in order to integrate innovation skills, elements of Industry 4.0 and aspects of Sustainable Development Goals, the concept of competence is introduced, with a conceptual structure that considers knowledge, attitude and performance context, thus this research provides a conceptual framework for those interested in constructing innovation skills in engineering, oriented towards the development of an innovation culture and mentality, as part of the expected professional performance.
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