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The Pracademic Pineapple Challenge

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2018 FYEE Conference


Glassboro, New Jersey

Publication Date

July 24, 2018

Start Date

July 24, 2018

End Date

July 26, 2018

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Paper Authors


Michael Wilson University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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M.D. WILSON is a Professor of the Practice in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering department at the University of Massachusetts; his "Pracademic" background combines rigorous research with practical experiences. Wilson started, sold, and consulted Fortune companies in the University-Industry entrepreneurial space for over twenty successful years. His broad research interests include Engineering Education, Entrepreneurship education. Professor Wilson may be reached at

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Presentation that is about a timely issue related to the First Year Experience Workshop Proposal: The Pracademic Pineapple Challenge To help authors prepare their final submissions, the conference suggests the following guidelines for preparing a workshop proposal. • What is the breadth of the audience that will be interested in the subject of the Workshop? The workshop is designed to engage First Year Engineering Faculty. The goal is to offer insight into real-project demonstrations, team-based, and mastery-based precepts. • To what extent are the practices described in the workshop innovative, leading-edge, cutting-edge? The Pracademic Pineapple Challenge is unique as an active-learning experience; the iterative process serves to segue into the generative design and generative learning spaces as well. The approach follows a new-age process termed “Polyineering” – where entrepreneurship combines with a pioneering spirit using engineering toolsets, design-thinking skillsets, and pollinating mindsets. • How does the workshop help attendees develop ideas for future research or projects that can be included into their First Year program? First year engineering coursework inculcates the use of a systematic design process to develop and design solutions to engineering problems as well as to compare design alternatives in the learning schema transference. • To what degree have questions about purpose, potential hypotheses, and possible methodologies been addressed? The Polyineering framework is a way of scaffolding and includes a transdisciplinary body of tactics and techniques to draw on individual and team lifelong learning content, assessment, and pedagogies. Purpose of the workshop Workshops should share information about how a faculty member or group of faculty members are developing and/or implementing, new or novel practices across the breadth of topics of interest to conference participants. The work should be based on research on engineering education and/or education, however, it does not have to be completed but should be at a phase where meaningful information can be presented.

The workshop is a challenge to engage engineering, develop, and retain solutions; the process begins with a sketch, draws on concept inventories, and completes with discussion on possible improvements to the approach. The exercise is extremely hands-on and involves a myriad of engineering hard and soft skills to perform under time and resource constraints. Content - Suggestions not Requirements Presentations may be made in various forms, but they should answer and/or propose questions such as the following: What is unique about the innovative practice to be presented? How does this innovative practice differ from and build on previous practice as documented in the literature, including previous conferences? Has this approach ever been attempted before? What new ideas would conference participants take away from this presentation?

The precepts behind the Pineapple Challenge spawn from a TEDx talk and from several variations of the challenge conducted in professional, community college, high school, and Montessori classroom settings – each with a unique offering and outcome as the process is extremely dynamic drawing on the skills in-hand from the randomly assigned teams to perform various engineering methods.

The workshop facilitators might consider questions such as: What situation is being addressed? What are the goals of the practice being implemented? What research provides the foundations for the inventive practice?

The workshop begins to amalgam the design iterative process to what is possible with software including augmented reality in order to convey both generative design and generative learning possibilities; project management requires specific operations affecting the optimal outcome. It is suggested that the workshop should describe the setting for the proposed practice discussed in the workshop, motivations for the practice, what has been accomplished, what remains to be done, issues involved with making the discussed practice functional on a given campus setting, or some similar content. It is assumed that the practices described in the workshop or an implementation of the research has been tested at some level.

Drawing on “How people Learn” the prototype for the workshop attempts to generate outcomes based on Svinicki’s cognitive model of learning framework of deliberate, distributed, and practiced paradigms; further, skill learning meets apprenticeship and mentorship practices. The challenge has a team actually cut a pineapple under specific contexts including safety, sanity, efficiency, and artistic elements. The learning by doing and observing necessitates paying attention, retention, production, and motivation of feedback. Also, the Wiggins and McTighe “curricular priorities” are evinced as in “good to know, important to know, and enduring understandings” are possible when participating and practicing within the actual challenge. The workshop could also describe some similar research that has supported the practice, or how does the research incorporate any relevant topic. A brief synopsis of the methodology, and/or describe the research question(s) should be included.

Much of the learning scaffolding hinges on the experiential components modeled by Kolb’s learning cycle including mastery on novice and expert modeling along with social construction of knowledge through peer interactions as well as expert judging including an enumerated rubric, team reflection, and critical feedback from experts.

Finally, it is suggested that the workshop should describe what results the authors anticipate will be obtained, and what remains to be done before the study will be completed, or some similar content.

The workshop offering herein endeavors to learn whether the use of mental calisthenics such as “wild imagination” or “design swarms” as precursors to the challenge will help convey domain specific conceptual knowledge, for far transfer, along with problem solving and acquisition of cognitive skills.

Wilson, M. (2018, July), The Pracademic Pineapple Challenge Paper presented at 2018 FYEE Conference, Glassboro, New Jersey.

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