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A Course In Communication And Creativity For Undergraduates In Engineering: Seeing And Hearing Communicating With Photographs, Video, And Sound

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Critical Thinking and Creative Arts

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.20.1 - 14.20.25



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Paper Authors

author page

Helen Donis-Keller Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering

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A Course in Communication and Creativity for Undergraduates in Engineering: Seeing and Hearing: Communicating with Photographs,Video and Sound

introduction Given the global reach by employers for engineering professionals, creativity, innovation and the ability to communicate effectively have gained importance as assets of the American engineering workforce. Furthermore, while writing remains an essential means of communication, visual digital technologies such as video and still photography have gained widespread acceptance and are now ubiquitous as primary modes for communication, notably via web-based means. Despite recognition for the need to embrace "new media" courses that directly address creativity and effective communication using such tools are not plentiful within the engineering curriculum. There are many competing interests that influence curriculum design that will equip the next generation of engineers to be technically competent, competitive in the global economy, and effective as responsible citizens. The Association of American Colleges and Universities report College Learning for the New Global Century (2007), acknowledges the needs for all college students to prepare for twenty-first-century challenges by gaining four essential learning outcomes: 1) knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world, focused by engagement with big questions, both contemporary and enduring 2) intellectual and practical skills, including inquiry and analysis, critical and creative thinking, written and oral communication, 3) personal and social responsibility, including foundations and skills for lifelong learning, ethical reasoning and action, intercultural knowledge and competence and 4) integrative learning, including synthesis and advanced accomplishment across general and specialized studies. For Engineering students in particular educators have recognized that a narrow focus on acquiring technical skills is no longer sufficient training for the twenty-first century engineer. As several reports from the National Academy of Engineering attest (2004, 2005), in a call to action to for engineers "who are broadly educated, who see themselves as global citizens, who can be leaders in business and public service, and who are ethically grounded" Furthermore these reports go on to state that "attributes needed for the graduates of 2020 include such traits as strong analytical skills, creativity, ingenuity, professionalism, and leadership." In particular creativity is seen as "an indispensable quality for engineering as is good communication", which is defined as "the ability to listen effectively as well as to communicate through oral, visual and written mechanisms. Modern advances in technology will necessitate the effective use of virtual communication tools." Courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences (AHS) can address the need, at least in part, for broadening the educational base for engineering students. AHS courses that focus on the development of creativity, multiple means of effective communication, improving critical thinking skills, and engagement by students with the larger questions of living within contemporary society today would address some of the important concerns enunciated in these reports. However, AHS courses form an exceedingly small fraction of the total number of course credits required for graduation. Therefore, it is important that these courses address the educational goals for engineers as effectively and comprehensively as possible.

Donis-Keller, H. (2009, June), A Course In Communication And Creativity For Undergraduates In Engineering: Seeing And Hearing Communicating With Photographs, Video, And Sound Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4690

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