June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
Over the past twenty years, nearly all job growth in the United States has emerged from new companies and organizations with assumedly innovative products, services, and practices. Yet, the nurturing of student creative thinking through truly open-ended problem solving is infrequent in engineering education. Engineering design projects most often come with constraints and requirements that often negate opportunities for creative growth. In response, over the past six years at the University of Dayton, a capstone engineering modeling course has been developed and evolved. Initially this course focused on asking students to develop computational solutions to well-specified modeling problems ideally building upon on previously taken fundamental mechanical engineering courses. However, it was clear very early that students’ abilities to develop models for the projects assigned to which computational tools could be applied was noticeably weak. Thus the course emphasis shifted to highly open-ended modeling efforts. What has emerged over time is a course based upon projects involving two person student teams driven by very general needs and which integrate foundational mechanical engineering subject areas. The projects are designed to only provide the general problem space for unique student innovations. With their concepts developed, they then proceed to ‘create’ their engineering model. This process of defining the problem, breaking down their problem to manageable parts, envisioning assumptions to make their models tractable, and then applying foundational engineering processes and knowledge all provide immense challenge to students. In all stages of the innovation and modeling process, the students are expected demonstrate progress, before given individualized suggestions for improvement from their instructors. Recent assessment has documented the following results. Upon completion of the course students acknowledge improvement in creativity, problem identification, an ability to breakdown real problems, and an ability to model. They also acknowledge improved confidence in their foundational knowledgeable and heightened excitement about a career which enables them to work creatively as engineers.
Reissman, M., & Kinney, A. L., & Hallinan, K. P. (2017, June), A Capstone Engineering Modeling Course for Developing Creative Problem-Solving Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27441
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