June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Cooperative & Experiential Education
15.244.1 - 15.244.9
Bringing Social and Cultural Awareness into the First Year Design Experience Caswell, Lockwood and Leung
At the Schulich School of Engineering, University of Calgary, 730 first year students are required to take two half courses in Design and Communications. These courses (ENGG 251 and ENGG 253) are project-based, with students participating in 5 real-world design projects each year. The course capstone project is an eight week design challenge that requires students to collaborate with a social agency on developing solutions to current social issues in Calgary and around the world.
The topic of this paper centers on the potential for simultaneous and multiple level learning events by placing design and communication skill development in the social and cultural arena. At the Schulich School of Engineering, the first year design and communication course partners with local and international agencies that welcome the opportunity to benefit from the creative abilities of over 700 students collaborating in 200 teams and to participate in the creation of engineers who are able to see the broad societal and cultural impacts of their work as professional engineers. The design challenges are structured to take advantage of the large class size through project management training and multi-faceted project outcomes.
The Capstone project for the 2009/2010 academic year is a collaboration with The MustardSeed (hereafter MS), a non-profit outreach group that runs shelters, food and clothing banks and education and retraining programs for the homeless. The partnership is aimed at assisting the MS’s educational division with GED studies and life skills. As many of the clients of the MS have difficulties with focus and with understanding and relating to material, the students’ challenge will be to use their engineering knowledge to develop physical or computer-based aids, based around themes that are relevant to the clients, to assist in skill and knowledge development.
Over the eight week project, each group of 30 students will select a theme to shape their work, then split into groups of four, with each foursome developing a solution for a) an academic challenge, b) a study skill challenge or c) a life skill challenge. Project Management tools, oral and written communication skills and sketching will be emphasized during this project. The challenge will culminate with an open house, where each of the 24 groups of 30 will present their work to the clients for evaluation.
This paper tracks the development of the project, from the initial contact with the organization through the development and refinement of the project and finally through the actual implementation of the project, including a presentation of a selection of the products created by the students.
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