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The Prototyping of Human-centered Design Engineering Curricula to Address Global Environmental Challenges

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Division: Student Empathy & Human-centered Design

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Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Anas Chalah Harvard University

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Dr. Anas Chalah
Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning
Lecturer on Engineering Sciences
Director of Lab Safety Program
Harvard University
John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Science
Pierce Hall G2A, 29 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

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Fawwaz Habbal Harvard University

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Fawwaz Habbal has served as the Executive Dean for the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) from 2007 to present. He is also a Senior Lecturer in Applied Physics at SEAS.
Prior to Harvard, he held the position as Corporate Vice President, responsible for research and product design at Polaroid Corporation where he served as a Senior Research and Engineering Fellow as well. After leaving this position he initiated two start-ups related to imaging.
Dr. Habbal’s research interests focus on superconductivity, magnetic materials, silicon nanowires for photon detection and nano-photonics more broadly.

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Michael Raspuzzi Harvard University

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Michael Raspuzzi is a design instructor and researcher at the Harvard University John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. His work focuses on applied learning and curriculum development at the intersection of design, engineering, and entrepreneurship. Raspuzzi received his Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University and an inaugural Master in Design Engineering from Harvard University--where his project EMMA: Maternal Healthcare Coach earned him the MDE 2018 Thesis Prize.

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The approach of active learning and human centered design has been a pedagogical goal for our school to incorporate into the curricula in order to prepare students to address the ever changing and complex environmental challenges that affect society. Traditional classroom arrangements of lecture based learning do not adequately prepare students for the application of knowledge in various scenarios outside of the classroom. Problem based learning requires a new teaching and learning model where students respond to concepts in workshops to apply them in a laboratory or fabrication setting to build and test hypotheses. The classroom becomes collaborative as our faculty and staff respond to the varying needs of the individual students through the design process as well as supporting team based project work.

While we initially created pilots with small groups of college students to test and experiment new additions to the curriculum, the demand increased which made it difficult to adequately evaluate the small programs. Currently, in order to evaluate and assess new experiments and projects, we use summer programs with a different student body, a mix of local and international students, to develop learning initiatives prior to implementation into the semester. This paper will cover two different programs, one pre-collegiate and one international, undergraduate collaborative exchange program, as case studies for developing curricula. The former program focuses on international water engineering and resource management, and the latter is centered on developing on site soil testing devices for small scale Peruvian farmers. While one uses multiple iterations of the design thinking cycle for students to test and iterate, the other uses a different approach with the first part of the schedule focused on concept-based workshops and the second half establishing one longer design thinking cycle.

This paper will address our methodology of addressing factors influencing the success of the two programs, including: Evaluating and selecting students from different backgrounds and in program team formation Choice of piloted topics to support our official college curriculum and learning outcomes Mechanisms of curricular development, including program workshops and institutional collaborations between faculty, staff, and labs Mechanics of piloting new activities and engaging with the participating students Assessing of learning outcome (before, during, and after program completion)

Chalah, A., & Habbal, F., & Raspuzzi, M. (2019, June), The Prototyping of Human-centered Design Engineering Curricula to Address Global Environmental Challenges Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33417

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