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Design Education for the World of Near Tomorrow: Empowering Students to Learn How to Learn

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Design Communications & Cognition I

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.429.1 - 22.429.17



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Paper Authors


Dirk Schaefer Georgia Institute of Technology

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Dirk Schaefer is an Assistant Professor at the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Dr. Schaefer was a Lecturer in the School of Engineering at Durham University, UK. During his time at Durham, he earned a Postgraduate Certificate in “Teaching and Learning in Higher Education” (PG-Cert). He joined Durham from a Senior Research Associate position at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, where he earned his Ph.D. in Computer Science. Dr. Schaefer has published more than 95 technical papers in journals, books and conference proceedings on Computer-Aided Engineering and Design as well as Engineering Education. Dr. Schaefer is a registered professional European Engineer (Eur Ing), a Chartered Engineer (CE ng), a Chartered IT-Professional (CI TP), a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA ) in the UK, and a registered International Engineering Educator (Ing-Paed IGIP).

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Jitesh Panchal Washington State University

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Sammy Haroon The RBR Group


Farrokh Mistree University of Oklahoma

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Farrokh Mistree holds the L. A. Comp Chair and is the Director of the School of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma.
Farrokh’s current research focus is on learning how to attain a net zero energy / eco footprint in the built environment. His current education focus is on creating and implementing, in partnership with industry, a curriculum for educating Strategic Engineers – those who have developed the competencies to create value through the realization of complex engineered systems for changing markets in a collaborative, globally distributed environment. It is in this context that he enjoys experimenting with ways in which design can be learned and taught. Farrokh is a Fellow of ASME and an Associate Fellow of AIAA.

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Rethinking Design Education for the Globalization 3.0 EraAbstractThe world of technology is becoming increasingly complex and dynamic. The skills that wereconsidered valuable yesterday are becoming the commodities of today and tomorrow. Lookingback at the past 20 years of engineering design and realizing how much the world has changed itbecomes apparent that this change needs to be better reflected in the way engineering designersare educated. Complex social networks, consisting of millions of individuals, have formed overthe Internet through the emerging Web 2.0 technologies, blogs, discussion boards, etc.Information is readily available to everyone through the Web, anytime and anywhere. Individualswho have never met each other are already collaborating on the development of complexproducts and services for major companies, solving challenging problems that are openly ‘crowdsourced’ to the community of interested engineers and scientists. For the next generation ofengineers this will be the new normal. Their number one material to work with will beinformation and their generation is already being referred to as that of the knowledge workers.Given this complex and dynamic environment, the key question we pose is: How can we bettereducate the engineering designers of near tomorrow? We believe that the competitiveness of thenext generation of engineers in general will no longer be defined solely by their knowledge andskills. A key differentiator of leaders and followers will be their ability to create their ownknowledge and constantly improve and update their competencies in an ever changing world.Accordingly, in this paper, we discuss one potential strategy for educating the next generation ofengineering designers. In terms of context, our educational approach is focused on leveragingthe emerging paradigms of mass career customization, mass collaboration, open innovation, andcrowd sourcing. We address, among others, the following questions: What are key factorsimpacting design education and the degree of success future engineering designers will have?What does it mean to be a knowledge worker and how do we define success in that context? Whatmight be appropriate metrics to measure success?From an educational and instructional perspective, our approach is anchored in the theory ofcollaborative/collective learning, the paradigm of mass customization applied to course design,the concept of competency-based learning, and the new field of ‘threshold concepts’.In this paper, we first present the contextual and educational background. Then, we give anoverview of how the above-mentioned questions are addressed in a series of graduate leveldesign courses frequently taught by the authors at several US universities in both traditional in-class and distributed educational settings. Finally, we share our experiences with this kind ofeducational experiment, discuss its pros and cons, and outline potential ways of developing thisapproach further in order to make it applicable on a larger scale.

Schaefer, D., & Panchal, J., & Haroon, S., & Mistree, F. (2011, June), Design Education for the World of Near Tomorrow: Empowering Students to Learn How to Learn Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17710

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