June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Design in Engineering Education
24.837.1 - 24.837.24
The KEEN Winter Interdisciplinary Design Experience - An extra-curricular experiment in immersive design In January 2012, we offered the KEEN Winter Interdisciplinary Design Experience (K-WIDE)to 23 first and second year engineering students. Students from 5 engineering disciplines worked for130 hours over 10 days before the spring semester for no pay and no credit. The immersive, hands-on,design-build experience strongly emphasized systems thinking, opportunity recognition, problemidentification, and teaming. In end-of-program evaluations, students described K-WIDE’s visceralimpact particularly with regard to learning to fail forward. Alumni continue to tell stories from theirexperience in interviews, presentations before alumni, and recruitment of future K-WIDE participants.Rather than describing the specific content of K-WIDE, the purpose of this work is to highlight threepedagogical techniques that were used: 1) Experiencing design, 2) Immersion and 3) Critical reflection. Students were led through exercises that highlighted actions within the design process but theprocess itself was never formally presented. Instead students considered their actions from variouslevels, ranging from the 5 foot technical view to the 50,000 foot view of impact. Doing so helpedstudents to focus on both technical and non-technical issues including social impact, market demand,and sustainability. Furthermore, the 5-50,000 foot paradigm drove students to a greater awareness ofwhy their products were important, whom their products would serve, and what their products woulddo without jumping first to how their designs would work or what features they would have. As an immersive program, K-WIDE avoided scheduling conflicts with typical semesteractivities. Immersion in K-WIDE required complete engagement for success. We observed thatstudents readily created strong emotional connections with projects, teammates, and content.Participants felt a strong sense of community. The immersive experience facilitated tangible failure, anew phenomenon for many participants. Students learned the value and practice of failing forward as weencouraged them to assume a completely new growth mindset. It was important for students to process concrete experiences through critical reflection. Wedesigned K-WIDE with specific scheduled times for written and oral reflection, in both individual andteam settings. In one exercise, we asked students to map out the design process they had followed.What we received was far from the traditional textbook version but instead communicated design as anetwork. Drawings captured traditional design actions, but most also included those that are oftendifficult to integrate into an academic/educational experience - economics, markets, ethics,environmental concerns, socio-cultural impact and political/regulatory concerns. These elements aroseorganically from the experience in the absence of a formal description of the design process. This experiment was performed in an extra-curricular program and only informal assessmentwas gathered. We will offer the program in January 2014 and will conduct formal assessment that willappear in the final paper. The goal of presenting our findings, however, is to stimulate others to try it aswell, perhaps in low-risk situations at first. Together we hope to explore the pedagogical techniques forteaching design in a more holistic and coherent way.
Kim, C., & Tranquillo, J. (2014, June), K-WIDE: Synthesizing the Entrepreneurial Mindset and Engineering Design Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20728
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