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In Class Creativity Exercises For Engineering Students

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Teams and Teamwork in Design II

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.723.1 - 13.723.13



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Paper Authors

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Jonathan Weaver University of Detroit Mercy

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Karim Muci-Küchler South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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

In-Class Creativity Exercises for Engineering Students Abstract

The flattening of the world is rejuvenating the call for engineering educators to better develop students that are creative and innovative so that they can have a clear advantage in a very competitive global economy. Much has been written and many exercises developed in response to this calling. Unfortunately, while many such exercises are fun and engaging and serve many useful purposes, the authors find the majority of them failing to provide the participants with a toolset or thinking process change that can be easily applied to creatively and innovatively solve the day-to-day engineering problems which the students will routinely encounter upon graduation. The authors have reviewed a large amount of literature and many books relating to creativity exercises and have adopted several (some with minor changes) that are particularly effective in providing very distinct teaching points that can result in a student’s future ability to directly and consciously apply a particular technique to generate more creative concepts. This paper will describe three such exercises and summarize some of the results typically obtained when they are run with students.


By now, most engineering educators have read or heard about Thomas Friedman’s book1 describing how the lowering of trade and political barriers coupled with the digital revolution have made it possible for anyone to do business anywhere, anytime. Innovation is no longer being dominated by large corporations; increasingly, individual entrepreneurs and small start-ups are competing not just for labor/manufacturing but also in high-tech and R&D capacities. As engineering educators, the authors’ take on all of this is that in order to maintain competitive advantage as a nation, we need to revitalize how we educate our future engineers. It clearly no longer suffices to develop engineers who will merely outnumber those in competing nations and out compute those in developing countries; what is needed, in our opinion, is an engineering workforce able to out innovate the rest of the world and create so much value that our nation will be able to compete – and win – in the 21st century.

In preparation for understanding how we as engineering educators might adjust our curricula to respond to these changing times, the first author has read numerous books1-8,12-15 on the subject of innovation and creativity. Simultaneously, the College of Engineering of Science at the University of Detroit Mercy had identified Innovation and Creativity as one of four critical areas vital to the future success of our engineering students. This UDM priority coupled with generous support from Ford Motor Company, the Kern Family Foundation, the Lemelson Foundation, and the Jesuit 100 has led to an explosion of curricular developments in the areas of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. These activities have included four new university courses, a new pre-college program course, three technical entrepreneurship case studies, the creativity exercises about which this paper will focus, and plans to roll out a minor in entrepreneurship aimed at both technical and non-technical students. The authors also believe that the key competitive advantage boils down to company culture and process, and while the culture of external large corporations may be largely out of our hands, we have been developing and teaching courses on the product development process for more than a dozen years. A key aspect

Weaver, J., & Muci-Küchler, K. (2008, June), In Class Creativity Exercises For Engineering Students Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3724

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