June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation
13.1.1 - 13.1.11
“…A Good Imagination and a Pile of Junk” Abstract
The engineering workplace is placing more emphasis on teamwork in interdisciplinary environments, out-of-the-box thinking, creative engineering, and brainstorming. These skills are taught to varying degrees in standard engineering curriculums, and often the most fruitful opportunities exist for students to learn in venues outside of the classroom.
This paper will show how building Rube Goldberg machines is a fantastic way for learners from various disciplines to get hands-on project experience in a team environment. Intense brainstorming and work sessions result in inventive and unique machines that are fascinating for both participants and spectators to watch. In addition, students have opportunities to apply the technical skills they have learned in the classroom in an application where creativity is king but reliability is key.
This paper takes the reader on a journey through the author’s experiences leading a Rube Goldberg team through winning the national championship in 2006. This paper is the result of a deep iterative reflection, assisted by a collaborator in order to pull out the aspects of this experience that illuminate lessons related to design knowledge and learning. The aim of this paper is to identify important areas for future research and build a foundation for a future book intended to engage young learners in innovation and creative problem solving in a problem to product-focused environment. The experiences described in this paper will be particularly interesting to those looking to develop similar learning experiences for their students.
The machine the team built completed a task of individually shredding 5 sheets of 8 1/2" x 11” 20 lb paper into strips using a shredder over 215 steps. This paper will elucidate a successful design process including task determination, theme selection, module brainstorming, storyboard creation, and machine building. Artifacts of the process will be described, including an example of a module design where reliability became a problem that required multiple design iterations to thoroughly solve. Finally, a discussion of storyboarding as a way to promote creativity and innovation in design will be presented.
Introduction and motivations
The engineering workplace is changing to value teamwork in interdisciplinary environments, out-of-the-box thinking, creative engineering, and brainstorming. These attributes are highlighted in the recent Engineer of 2020 report1. Similarly, industry trends are leading people studying innovation to look toward fostering environments for creativity and engineering2 3 4.
These skills are taught to varying degrees in standard engineering curricula, and often the most fruitful opportunities exist for students to learn in venues outside of the classroom. Within curricula, these opportunities typically appear in both freshman and capstone undergraduate
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2008 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015