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Reflections on the Joy of Engineering


The talk was presented at the iLaunch of iFoundry on 22 August 2009. iFoundry is an interdisciplinary incubator of curriculum and community to transform engineering education. The talk considers the …

The talk was presented at the iLaunch of iFoundry on 22 August 2009. iFoundry is an interdisciplinary incubator of curriculum and community to transform engineering education. The talk considers the joy of engineering and the missing basics of engineering education in the 21st century. It then discusses how these integrate with the education of great engineers through engineering, community, and lifelong learning.

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  • 1. Reflections on the Joy of Engineeringon the Occasion of the iLaunch of iFoundry & iCommunity
    David E. Goldberg
    Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Urbana, IL 61801
  • 2. Welcome to iFoundry & iCommunity
    Welcome to iFoundry.
    iFoundry began over 2 years ago as grass roots effort to transform engineering education.
    Became College activity in fall 2008, one year ago.
    iLaunch as joyful way for iFoundry 2013 to begin.
    Introduce yourself to person on your left and right: Name & where you’re from.
    2 questions:
    Why did you choose engineering school?
    Why did you choose to join iFoundry?
    Explore the joy of engineering, community, and learning.
  • 3. Roadmap
    The joy or (joys) of engineering (JoE).
    The JoE and the aspirations of iStudents.
    From the joy of engineering to the joy of X.
    Historical perspective: Cold war curriculum in an internet world.
    What don’t cold war engineers know how to do?
    Social connectedness and iCommunity.
    Dynamic T-shaped engineers and lifelong learning.
  • 4. The Joy(s) of Engineering (JoE)
    Engineering is not a monolith:
    A creative, challenging profession
    A constructive, real-world profession
    A people profession
    A global profession
    An entrepreneurial profession
    A serving profession
    An optimistic profession
  • 5. Creative & Challenging
    The scientist merely explores that which exists, while the engineer creates what has never existed before.Theodore von Kármán
    Engineers fundamentally create new products, services, & processes.
    Intellectual challenge of engineering requires novel application of knowledge.
    Theodore von Kármán (1881-1963)
  • 6. JoE & the Aspirations of iStudents
    3 Aspirations:
    Create cool technology (products & services)
    Wanna be the next Max Levchin (entrepreneurial).
    Want to create sustainable world & solve societal problems (service)
    4 Teams:
    Art & engineering design (AED).
    Services & systems engineering (SSE).
    Entrepreneurship & innovation (EI).
    Engineering in service of society (ESS).
  • 7. From the Joy of Engineering to the Joy of X
    To get a fuller picture need to go from Joy of Engineering to the Joy of X, where X is element of {engineering, community, learning}.
    Historical perspective from WW2 & the cold war (CW): engineers as specialized, individualistic & narrow.
    What’s missing in engineers educated in CW curriculum?
    Consider joy of engineering, community, & learning from this perspective.
  • 8. Cold War Curriculum in a Creative Era
    Houston, we’ve got a problem.
    After World War 2, engineers accepted notion (myth?) that “science won the war.”
    1955 Grinter report spurred injection of math & science, reduction in design & practice.
    Engineering was specialized, individualistic & narrow.
    (c) 2009 David E. Goldberg
  • 9. What’s Missing in CW-Trained Engineers?
    20 years of teaching senior design gives clue.
    4 years in CW curriculum, what don’t they know?
    Question: Socrates 101.
    Label: Aristotle 101.
    Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.
    Decompose: Descartes 101.
    Measure: Bacon-Locke 101.
    Visualize/draw: da Vinci-Monge 101.
    Communicate: Newman 101
    Call these the missing basics (MBs) vs. “the basics” = math, sci, & eng sci.
    iFoundry focusing on missing basics to educate more creative engineers.
    Socrates (470-399 BCE)
    (c) 2009 David E. Goldberg
  • 10. A Cliché of Cold War Engineering School
    Engin profs used to say the following:
    “Look to your left. Look to your right.”
    “One of the three of you won’t make it!”
    Statistically correct: 50%-70% survive.
    Pedagogically improper.
    Why take pride in failure of capable students?
    Assumes that “rugged individuals” must survive selective “weed out” process to be successful.
  • 11. Research Shows Otherwise
    Russ Korte’s work on transitions:
    College to work
    HS to College
    Single most important variable in transition success social connectedness (SC).
    iCommunity designed to promote SC & your success.
    Russell Korte
  • 12. Look to Left & Right: the iFoundry Version
    Try it again:
    Look to your left. Look to your right.
    In iFoundry those two people crucial supporters to help you complete a challenging learning experience.
    iLaunch is primarily about the joy of community.
    Not an accident that we start with this.
    iCommunity calculus: How can we form a supportive group and become great engineers together?
  • 13. What Needed for Joy of Community?
    What skills necessary to become tight knit supportive community?
    Need to probe and ask questions of others.
    Need to label challenging people problems.
    Need to create and communicate.
    You need the missing basics!!!
    Joy of community, teamwork, leadership, facilitated by mastery of the missing basics.
  • 14. Teaching: Another Blast from the Past
    In old model, students were passive vessels.
    Professors poured knowledge into their brains.
    Assumes static world of engineers as category enhancers.
    Three flavors of iStudent as category creators:
    Cool new technology.
    Entrepreneurs & innovators.
    Working with developing cultures.
    Common thread: Need to create new stuff & need to keep learning.
    Learning in creative era is never ending enterprise.
  • 15. Research on Tech Visionaries as Clue
    Helpful to look at extreme exemplars of success.
    Price, Vojak, & Griffin have done work on tech visionaries (TVs).
    TV creates bottom line revenue from new products & services.
    T-shaped person both broad and deep.
    TVs are dynamic Ts.
    Do deep dive in unfamiliar area to make new products.
    Ray Price
  • 16. How to Be a Joyful Lifelong Learner?
    What skills do you need to be a dynamic T or lifelong learner?
    Need to ask framing questions.
    Need to learn lingo of new areas & connect to things understood.
    Need to collect data in new situation.
    Need to come up with creative solutions appropriate to situation.
    You guessed it. The missing basics are the key.
  • 17. Joy of Engineering, Community & Learning
    Taken together these joys can help put you on track to engineering education aligned with the times.
    Missing basics tie all three together: Critical & creative thinking skills cut across three areas.
    iFoundry is committed to work with you in ways we start today.
    Committed to learning and improving continuously.
  • 18. Let the Celebration of iCommunity Begin
    As a group let us dedicate ourselves to joy of engineering, community, and learning.
    Today we concentrate on building community.
    Today and tomorrow we form iTeams in areas of your interests.
    Monday, we start on learning and applying missing basics in integrated way.
    iLaunch is now in session: Let the engineering begin. Let the community begin. Let the learning begin. Let iFoundry begin.
  • 19. For More Information
    iFoundry website:
    iFoundry YouTube:
    iFoundry SlideShare:
    iFoundry Facebook: Search for iFoundry on FB
    iFoundry Twitter:
    DEG Twitter: