June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Arts Problem-Solving for Engineering Problem-Solving (APS4EPS): Multi-Modality Skill-Building—P–12, College, and the Impact Beyond
Engineering design involves such elements as problem-solving, team work, concurrent development, and creativity. We can express all of these elements as wide-sense problem-solving. Engineering design, R & D, testing, and education all make frequent use of such problem-solving. Engineering, furthermore, ultimately deals with economic and social factors.
Less well known are the roles of problem-solving, team work, and concurrent development (i.e., wide-sense problem-solving) in the creative processes of the arts. An artist, like an engineer, endeavors to create a novel, or even innovative, product. The value of the artistic product is judged by the market in terms of its cost, aesthetics, social impact, and sometimes even safety, just like in engineering.
Furthermore, just as engineers have to construct, test, and evaluate designs, artists also construct their works, test them via exhibits or performances, and evaluate their own and others’ work.
We express these similarities because in practice the two fields, engineering and the arts, both come down to problem-solving, even though the nature of the problems and solutions may differ. Nonetheless, if the arts do involve substantial problem-solving skills, what better candidate for nurturing and cultivating out-of-the-box problem-solving in engineering than to expose (future) engineers’ minds to multiple avenues of solution generation?
Naturally, we do not argue that all aspects of engineering and the arts have substantial parallels. There are aspects of engineering design that may find no parallels in the arts, such as the critical importance of reliability or the need for detailed documentation. Nonetheless, more aspects of engineering than are typically thought of can be found in varying degrees of relationship to the problem-solving processes of the arts.
We hypothesize that engineering students who are exposed to progressive problem-solving in an active arts context would benefit from the cognitive habits of the arts while developing in engineering, and thus find the opportunity to transfer these skills to their engineering work.
We propose a long-term study culminating in analysis of assessment data from three student populations engaged in junior and senior engineering projects: those with no substantial arts experience, those with significant P–12 arts experience, and those with ongoing arts engagement (involving long-term monotonic progress) in parallel with their college engineering education.
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