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Drama: An Emerging Model To Teach Engineering Design And Team Dynamics

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.224.1 - 3.224.9



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Paper Authors

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Robert Knecht

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Randal Ford

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1461

Drama: An Emerging Model to Teach Engineering Design and Team Dynamics

Randal Ford, Robert Knecht Colorado School of Mines


Is it possible to design a better team-building model that integrates engineering design and team dynamics? And if so, can such a model improve an instructor’s effectiveness? As educators at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) who teach design and teamwork to first-year and second-year students, such questions are a primary concern to us. Four factors converged on campus at CSM during the spring semester of 1997 that provided a potential answer: (1) The Student Council for Mines Little Theater (MLT) voted to allow an all-student production team to produce the musical, The Music Man; (2) two of the three professors involved with the project have extensive backgrounds in theater; (3) one of those two professors happened to be teaching a sophomore level Design (EPICS) course that semester; and (4) the third professor, a design engineer by trade and passionate inclination, auditioned and acted in the production. This article reports the insights we gathered observing this all-student production team in action and, based on these findings, to propose a working model to develop and to teach teams in design, leadership, management and communication.

Engineering design, a complex, interactive, and creative decision-making process, evolves as the design team synthesizes information, skills, and values to resolve open-ended problems. To help students become skilled at this process, mentors in the Design (EPICS) program at CSM have students learn through practice. The centerpiece of each design sequence is an open-ended problem that students work in teams to solve. Although the mentor’s primary role is to apprentice students through their difficulties, they also furnish students instruction or information in carefully selected topics. “Hands-on” application of engineering practice skills facilitates students’ learning, specifically of computer-aided design software applications.

Central to the curriculum is a project which requires teams to make decisions based on assumptions and constraints imposed by the problem, situation and client. This project provides an opportunity to exercise both creative thinking (brain storming and data gathering) and critical thinking (technical assessment and economic analysis). Teams assess various design parameters to develop the “best” solution through evaluation, analysis and synthesis of alternatives.

Second -Year Students Propose A Project

Second-year students proposed to the Director of Design (EPICS) that they use their production of The Music Man as a design project in lieu of more traditional engineering projects. The

Knecht, R., & Ford, R. (1998, June), Drama: An Emerging Model To Teach Engineering Design And Team Dynamics Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7059

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