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Labeling: The Most Elusive Missing Basic of Engineering


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Sometimes engineering is taught as though equations and numbers are the most important ways to describe technology, but words in the form of names and labels are important to being a successful engineering as well. This presentation is part of iFoundry's freshmen course, "Introduction to the Missing Basics of Engineering in a Creative Era" that covers the largely qualitative thinking skills necessary to being a great engineer.

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Labeling: The Most Elusive Missing Basic of Engineering

  1. 1. Labeling:The Most Elusive Missing Basic of Engineering<br />David E. GoldbergIllinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbana, Illinois 61801<br />
  2. 2. Motivation<br />When missing basics listed, people look at list and ask, “What do you mean by labeling?”<br />Very important to learn names of components, subsystems & systems of technology.<br />Important to assign labels to patterns in data or new systems.<br />Use and assignment of terms such a commonplace don’t even notice.<br />Sometimes think that equations and numbers are the only tech objects worth knowing.<br />Sensitivity to names and labels critical to becoming great engineer.<br />
  3. 3. Roadmap<br />Socrates, Aristotle & all that.<br />Connection to Back of the Napkin.<br />Importance of learning tech names & how.<br />Senior design example.<br />Assigning labels: How & why.<br />Senior design revisited.<br />Made to Stick.<br />The construction of engineering reality.<br />
  4. 4. Socrates and Dialectic<br />Socrates was a pain in the neck.<br />Walked around Athens asking everyone impossible questions.<br />Then proved their answers were wrong, but rarely gave an answer himself.<br />Nonetheless, Socrates’s method was useful.<br />Conversation trying to probe what & how things really are (or might be).<br />Socrates (470-399 BCE)<br />
  5. 5. Connection to the Napkin<br />Six ways of seeing:<br />Objects: who & what?<br />Quantity: how many & how much?<br />Position in space: where?<br />Position in time: when?<br />Influence & cause: how?<br />Purpose or meaning: why?<br />
  6. 6. Aristotle and Labeling/Categorization<br />Called The Philosopher.<br />Amazing range& scope.<br />Created basic categories of college curriculum.<br />Founded a school the Lyceum.<br />We have 1/3 his output (2000 pages in 30 books).<br />Categories (10): substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, state, action, and passion.<br />Aristotle (384-322 BCE)<br />
  7. 7. Names & Labels<br />Names as conventional terms used to identify something.<br />Labels as tentative naming of phenomenon as part of crticial/creative process.<br />Time + social acceptance: label  name.<br />Consider<br />Extant tech names.<br />Labeling of new/unknown phenomena.<br />
  8. 8. Connection to the Napkin<br />How does Dan Roam start?<br />With a circle and a label or name.<br />Back of the Napkin is as much about names/labels as about diagrams/pictures.<br />Words and pictures are interrelated.<br />
  9. 9. Where to Find Names of Tech Objects<br />Books: New Way Things Work<br />Encyclopedia:<br />Web:<br />Catalogs:<br />Trade<br />Thomas directory:<br />
  10. 10. Example from Senior Design<br />Tortilla line.<br />Was using too much “dusting flour.”<br />Problem: expensive (flour price had risen), maintenance, quality of product.<br />Students go to plant.<br />Don’t know the names of things, but need them to explain process.<br />
  11. 11. Mixer<br />11<br />
  12. 12. Flour Dusters<br />12<br />
  13. 13. Die Cutter<br />13<br />
  14. 14. Labeling<br />Want terms that are <br />Descriptive<br />Memorable <br />Why is this important?<br />Focuses attention on thing named.<br />Saves time in reference to the phenomenon.<br />Starting point for further modeling.<br />Permits easy social spread of the concept.<br />Examples from news, politics & business. <br />List iFoundry terms and consider whether they are descriptive and memorable.<br />
  15. 15. Critical Examination of iFoundry Terms<br />“Category creator” vs. “category enhancer”<br />“Missing basics”<br />“Cold war engineer”<br />“Missed revolutions”<br />Are they descriptive?<br />Do they have rhetorical intent beyond their function? Approbation, opprobrium, or other values.<br />
  16. 16. Abbreviations, Acronyms & Initialisms<br />3 terms:<br />Abbreviation: shortening of word or phrase.<br />Acronym: abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word.<br />Initialism: abbreviation formed from initial letters of words. <br />Engineering uses abbreviations as shorthand for longer term.<br />Abbreviation: iFoundry (Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education).<br />Acronym examples: SNAFU (situation normal all fouled up), BASIC (Beginner&apos;s All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code).<br />Initialism examples: Background, purpose, roadmap: BPR (background, purpose, roadmap), CSL (Coordinated Science Laboratory). <br />Rules of usage: lower case for term unless it is a proper name.<br />Use of an abbreviation can signal an important label or local term of art.<br />Example: The missing basics (MBs) are important to an engineer’s education.<br />
  17. 17. Return to Tortilla Problem<br />Labeling as initial step in solution.<br />Recall problem was too much dusting flour.<br />What names might we assign to this problem?<br />
  18. 18. A Model of Ideas that Stick<br />Sticky: understandable, memorable & effective in changing thought or action.<br />Made to Stick model:<br />Simple<br />Unexpected<br />Concrete<br />Credible<br />Emotional<br />Stories<br />Forms acronym SUCCES. <br />
  19. 19. The Construction of Engineering Reality<br />Engineers think of physics and material world.<br />All engineered objects are social.<br />Searle’s, The Construction of Social Reality (Free Press, 1995),explains. <br />Helps us understand social and institutional facts, separate physics from the social.<br />Engineered objects are always observer relative.<br />Some engineered objects “institutional” in that we must believe they exist for them to exist: E-bay.<br />John R. Searle (b. 1932)<br />
  20. 20. Summary<br />Patron philosophers of questions and labeling.<br />Back of the Napkin connections.<br />Names versus labels.<br />Where can we get proper tech names?<br />Naming example from senior design: Tortilla plant.<br />Labeling as choice that is descriptive and memorable.<br />Examining iFoundry terms.<br />Tortilla example redux.<br />Made to Stick: How to make ideas even more memorable.<br />Engineering is more than physics.<br />
  21. 21. Bottom Line<br />Names and labeling are so commonplace in language, they’re hidden.<br />Engineering school spends little time on the name of things. You should do otherwise.<br />Labeling is a critical step in further inquiry.<br />Label may be enough of a model, or more modeling may be necessary.<br />Either way knowing names and labeling phenomena are first steps on road to better understanding and engineering. <br />