How To Teach Connections
Connections is getting students to:
- Integrate information from many sources.
- Think outside of the box.
- Find new ideas at the intersection of disparate concepts.
- Assess consequences.
- Take calculated risks in order to pursue goals.
- Possess a willingness to learn from mistakes.
- Understand a system's behavior.
- Recognize the interactions and interdependencies between components.
- Identify leverage points where interventions can have significant impact.
- Frame ideas in terms of other people's needs, perspectives, and motivations.
Design exercises so that students:
- Mentally integrate technical topics, relating one to another.
- Think about the potential unintended consequences of their work.
- Plan for decisions associated with increasing scale or production.
- Habitually assess “What if?” with regard to connections to key people, organizations, political environments, regulations, competitors, processes, and design changes.
Engineering is seldom within a vacuum; context matters. What if every engineering graduate understood the connections to their work?
Supercharge the early stages of the design process! Use painstorming, bisociation, and biomimicry to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of design solutions.
Students perform customer interviews with the professor to understand customer needs and integrate information from many sources to gain insight.
Storytelling, guided discussions, and stage-setting lead students through a vibrant, investigative project.
Integrate this project into a core engineering course for students to discover levels of complexity that require the integration of a broad range of skills.
The concept-knowledge theory of design scaffolds the discovery and knowledge transfer processes involved in using natural designs to inspire engineering solutions.
Dr. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) asks us to imagine what the world would be like if engineering faculty inspired students to see connections between their technical skills and the world around them.