The new engineer: flexible, creative, socially oriented
Internationally renowned engineering education expert Dave Goldberg shared his experiences and insight with the Faculty Teaching & Learning team at a recent retreat.
Goldberg, a co-founder of the iFoundry at the University of Illinois, is critical of traditional approaches to how engineering is taught, proposing a new paradigm to change both engineering education and practice.
In his latest book - A whole new engineer: the coming revolution in engineering education - he describes a learning environment that is not reductionist and linear, but instead more holistic and nonlinear, less focussed on mechanistic learning and instead on interpersonal skills and relationships.
“Universities can help develop an engineer who is flexible, creative and socially oriented in this era where creativity and innovation rule,” said Dave.
So how to do this?
“Have a conversation with the situation”, by which he means students ask what kind of engineer they want to be, are encouraged to reflect on their purpose and motivations, and to work with Faculty to co-create an environment where they can be more self-directed, confident, and engage with the spirit of engineering.
He also emphasises developing more critical and creative thinking and the skills to support this. For Dave, engineering is inherently creative, and is about developing user friendly products requiring more than just technical skills; engineers need high levels of understanding and intelligence. In his latest work he expands on the 'seven intelligences' described by Howard Gardner, to focus on six ‘minds’ or capacities that engineers now need: Analytical, Design, Linguistic, People, Body, Mindful.
“It has long been believed that engineering smarts are in science and maths but an engineer now needs the ability to incorporate elements of economics, sociology, psychology and business to identify solutions to pressing problems, " he said.
During his UTS visit, Dave delivered a public lecture and led workshops with FEIT academics and students from different subjects and different stages of their undergraduate study.
“We invited Dave to UTS because his thinking aligns with our aim to co-create a student experience which better aligns with contemporary challenges and opportunities. We want to work with our students to develop the inter-personal attributes that help to develop and sustain rich relationships - which our industry partners repeatedly identify as key to employability,” said Justine Lawson, Manager Teaching & Learning Design.
Students are encouraged to be equal partners in discussion about curriculum, have been “very vocal and active” at recent workshops, and are currently working with faculty to develop project-based, student-led initiatives within subjects and in extracurricular activity.
“Students have always had ideas about change – now we have in place a process where people can develop their ideas, up to and including our latest summer studio program,” said Justine.
“We have long wanted to provide opportunities during summer semester and we will now have three student-led studios in humanitarian engineering, a light installation for the Vivid Sydney festival and a Global Aerospace Space Challenge!”
Other activities inspired by the T+L workshops include Small Bets Friday and feedback and collaboration suggestions via the Level 5 space and World Café in the FEIT Learning Precinct.