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Investigating How Mechanical Engineering Students Design and Make the Now and the Future

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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

Design Pedagogy 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Jarod White South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Jarod White is a Senior Mechanical Engineering Student at South Dakota School of Mines. He joined Dr. Micah Lande's HELLO Lab as a research assistant in the Fall of 2020.

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Micah Lande South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Micah Lande, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor and E.R. Stensaas Chair for Engineering Education in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. He teaches human-centered engineering design, design thinking, and design innovation courses. Dr. Lande researches how technical and non-technical people learn and apply design thinking and making processes to their work. He is interested in the intersection of designerly epistemic identities and vocational pathways. Dr. Lande received his B.S. in Engineering (Product Design), M.A. in Education (Learning, Design and Technology) and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Design Education) from Stanford University.

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This is a research paper presents a conceptual framework of Foresight Thinking that encourages the student to look 10 to 20 or 30 years out competently and repeatedly. It will summarize the contemporary history of foresight, the role of methods and tools (S-curves for innovation, forecasting, back casting, scenario building and prototyping artifacts of the future). Research into how engineering students design for the future will be supported with qualitative and quantitative analysis of student foresight and engineering design project examples. Themes across these student project will be synthesized and presented. The authors also intent to explore how engineering students conceive of the breadth of impact of engineering on the future out 5-10-20 years through reviewing their work and classifying their work product. Prototyping examples will be collected and documents.

Initial findings suggest that students are very optimistic about the evolution of technologies to be considered. But there are barriers students have to considering how far out of a time horizon they are able to consider. This may have implications for how we might frame and scope design challenges for students and how we might inspire and capture students’ excitement for an out-there future for design work in the classroom.

Fifty years ago, the iconic cartoon family of the future, The Jetsons, debuted on television. Sixty years ago, Disneyland opened with a glimpse to the future with Tomorrowland, the House of the Future and, soon after, the Carousel of Progress. Fantastic images of helpful robot assistants and flying cars, nifty gadgets and other inventive time-saving automation abound in these creations and for many of us today, still illustrate our far-off, yet believable and obtainable future. The space race and NASA’s Mercury, Gemini, Apollo programs inspired many towards interest, passion and careers in engineering. These engineers are retired and retiring. But what of the engineering student, new engineer in the workforce and future engineer?

White, J., & Lande, M. (2021, July), Investigating How Mechanical Engineering Students Design and Make the Now and the Future Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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