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Design Systems Thinking for Innovation in an Engineering Faculty Development Program

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Faculty Development Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Faculty Development Division

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Paper Authors


Douglas E. Melton Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Douglas Melton is a program director for the Kern Family Foundation and works with the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN) which has partner institutions who are developing educational experiences to foster an entrepreneurial mindset in their undergraduate engineering students. Doug Melton served as a faculty member for seventeen years within the department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Kettering University in Flint, Michigan. There, he also served as the program director for Entrepreneurship Across the University. Prior, Doug was the Director of Research & Development for Digisonix Incorporated. His disciplinary specializations include signal processing, acoustics, and wireless communications.

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Heather Dillon University of Washington Tacoma Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Heather Dillon is Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Washington Tacoma. Her research team is working on energy efficiency, renewable energy, fundamental heat transfer, and engineering education. Before joining academia, Heather Dillon worked for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) as a senior research engineer.

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Mark L. Nagurka Marquette University

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MARK NAGURKA, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at Marquette University. Before joining Marquette, he was an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T. His professional interests are in the design of mechanical and electromechanical systems.

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This is a work in progress paper describing design systems thinking as a paradigm for evolving faculty development. Managing organizational change is a difficult task, often dependent on the way ideas are operationalized for effective innovation. Systems thinking leverages value creation across organizational systems to support innovation based on design. In this paper we explore the utility of design systems thinking for creating innovation in a national engineering faculty development program.

Design systems thinking has been used by Engineering Unleashed as part of a multi-year innovation effort in engineering faculty development. We seek to shift the mindset of traditional engineering faculty development using best practices for relationship building by coaching, mentoring, and through communities of practice. Two outcomes of the systems thinking model from this work include (i) a faculty fellowship program to recognize and reward faculty development of transformational projects and (ii) self-paced learning structures to encourage emergent ideas. This paper addresses the first steps for the following research questions: 1) Does a systems thinking approach create a responsive model for a community-driven faculty development program? Does this model adapt to community needs and individual faculty career needs? 2) Will a systems thinking approach support the community development of a sustainable model for faculty development that thrives outside of the funding organization?

This project is ongoing and this paper reports on the way systems thinking has been used to create a bottom-up and top-down innovation structure. Preliminary results in this paper include an analysis of growth in the faculty development program, a timeline of expected evolution, a summary of community engagement structures in place, and statistics from the faculty fellowship program. The poster presentation will focus on the evolution of the faculty development program.

Melton, D. E., & Dillon, H., & Nagurka, M. L. (2021, July), Design Systems Thinking for Innovation in an Engineering Faculty Development Program Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36923

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