June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Design in Engineering Education
15.726.1 - 15.726.13
Incubating Engineers, Hatching Design Thinkers: Mechanical Engineering Students Learning Design Through Ambidextrous Ways of Thinking
Design Thinking and Engineering Thinking are complimentary yet distinct aspects of mechanical engineering design activities. This paper examines these distinctions in the context of mechanical engineering students designing in a project-based learning course at Stanford University. By qualitatively analyzing and plotting student teams’ prototyping activities, the students’ work patterns can generally be assessed along a framework of Ambidextrous Ways of Thinking.
Innovation is a difficult challenge. Today, in technology product development, it often takes many players from many areas (business, engineering, etc.) working together to create something anew. Along the way, competing voices and values often surface from groups and individuals borne from their disciplinary and epistemic roots. The best equipped can navigate safely among these political issues.
This paper focuses on mechanical engineering design, and, in particular, Design Thinking and Engineering Thinking and how these activities may be distinguished. Design Thinking and Engineering Thinking are both vital aspects of mechanical engineering design activities and serve as underlying practices for doing and teaching innovation.
A theoretical framework relating these concepts and some findings are presented from empirical observations of what Design Thinking and Engineering Thinking activities look like in Mechanical Engineering 310 Global Team-Based Design Innovation, a year-long, project-based learning course at Stanford University, where graduate mechanical engineering students model industry work practice.
Distinctions between the Design Thinking and Engineering Thinking mindsets will be proposed and catalysts for mechanical engineering students learning design thinking will be presented. The implications herein point to educational benefits to mechanical engineering students developing judgment through an ambidextrous navigation of Design Thinking and Engineering Thinking activities.
Ambidextrous Ways of Thinking Framework
Previous efforts by the authors to classify student activities have produced this working framework modeling Ambidextrous Ways of Thinking 1 as accessed by mechanical engineering design students. As shown in Figure 1, it is visually represented as a matrix showing relative position of Design Thinking 2, Engineering Thinking 3 4, Production Thinking 5, and Future Thinking.6 Along the Y-axis is a spectrum from incremental innovation to breakthrough innovation.7 Along the X-axis it is measured in time, from short-term to long-term. The activity
Lande, M., & Leifer, L. (2010, June), Incubating Engineers, Hatching Design Thinkers: Mechanical Engineering Students Learning Design Through Ambidextrous Ways Of Thinking Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16990
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