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Work-in-Progress - Emphasizing Human-Centered Design in the Freshman Year through an Interactive Engineering Design Process Experience

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2017 FYEE Conference


Daytona Beach, Florida

Publication Date

August 6, 2017

Start Date

August 6, 2017

End Date

August 8, 2017

Conference Session

WIP: Enrollment, Instruction and Pedagogy - Focus on Design-Based Projects

Tagged Topics

Diversity and FYEE Conference - Works in Progress Submission

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Kirsten Heikkinen Dodson Lipscomb University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Kirsten Dodson is an assistant professor in the mechanical engineering department in the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering at Lipscomb University. She graduated from Lipscomb University with her Bachelors degree before moving on to Vanderbilt to finish her Doctoral degree. Upon completing her research at Vanderbilt, she joined the faculty at her alma mater where she has focused on thermal-fluids topics in teaching and humanitarian engineering applications in research.

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Kerry E Patterson Lipscomb University

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Joseph B Tipton Jr. Lipscomb University Orcid 16x16

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Let’s start with the basic idea of the engineering discipline: problem-solving. At the base of all problems, there is a human with a need seeking a solution. While engineering problem-solving utilizes concepts from mathematics and physical sciences, sometimes the hardest part of a solution is including the human element. Around the world, engineering programs emphasize problem-solving using math, science, and engineering concepts, but many dismiss humanities or social science topics that are imperative to understanding the human element of design. While ABET accreditation requires that programs cover design and analysis under the considerations of global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts, many programs simply squeeze these topics into other courses rather than creating a curriculum focused on holistic problem-solving.

At Lipscomb University, the engineering faculty have found that upper-level students lack experience in client interactions, decision-making processes, holistic critical-thinking, and sustainable design. In the past, our engineering courses have generally focused on the analysis of a system rather than designing a solution to fit a human need. Though this is a natural inclination of engineering programs, the Raymond B. Jones College of Engineering plans to upset this norm through a freshman engineering course focused on human-centered design. To create this course, the college will partner with The Peugeot Center for Engineering Service in Developing Communities to better cultivate concepts and techniques critical to this human-centered design process. The Peugeot Center, an entity within the college, has a wealth of expertise in humanitarian engineering applications with nearly fifty completed projects over twelve years.

Throughout the course, students will be introduced to a five-step design process originally developed by Engineering for Change. The steps are: a plan stage for team formation and management; a learn stage for research; a design phase for brainstorming and prototyping; a realize stage for analyzing producibility; and a sustain stage for ensuring long-term success. One unique aspect of this design process is its iterative nature. Simply stated, failure is viewed as a feedback loop for improvement. This design process is also inherently focused on the human at the center of the problem-solving experience.

The design process will be presented to the students through three interactive experiences. The first is a basic introduction where students are asked to design a new wallet for their lab partner. During the second, students are introduced to each step of the design process through the critique of a case study. Last, the students perform their own process through an immersive and interactive experience by working in groups, performing hands-on activities, active prototyping, and meeting with a client. For example, students may be given the scenario of a small community in Guatemala experiencing large numbers of stomach disease. Through the learn stage of the design process, the students may identify the need of a clean water system before designing and analyzing the system in the design and realize stages. Throughout each of these three experiences and in each step of the design process, the human element is the focal point of design.

Dodson, K. H., & Patterson, K. E., & Tipton, J. B. (2017, August), Work-in-Progress - Emphasizing Human-Centered Design in the Freshman Year through an Interactive Engineering Design Process Experience Paper presented at 2017 FYEE Conference, Daytona Beach, Florida.

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