Deliberate Development of Creative Engineers

Jakob Bruhl, James Klosky
2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings   unpublished
The ability of engineers to create and innovate is an essential part of delivering design value. The engineering profession has made this clear in The Engineer of 2020 and it is also a central part of the Civil Engineering Body of Knowledge, 3 rd Edition. Many programs provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate creativity and innovation in their capstone projects but few provide foundational instruction or opportunities to hone creativity skills throughout the curriculum. Inspired by
more » ... need to develop creative and innovative engineers and encouraged by the literature about how the necessary skills and attitudes can be developed through education, this paper describes how creativity has been deliberately and explicitly integrated in a required senior-level civil engineering course. Although early in implementation and assessment, the data suggests that integrating creativity into existing engineering courses is viable, does not detract from the traditional technical content, and is appreciated by students. The authors argue that we must aggressively continue to develop creative skills through targeted actions across our curriculum and this paper suggests potential areas for future development in this endeavor. THE CREATIVITY CHALLENGE! This paper encourages all engineering educators to deliberately integrate creativity across our curricula -we must do this now. Creativity and innovation skills are not "nice to have"; rather, they are essential. To accomplish this, we need a change in engineering education culture towards a community that honors and rewards creativity and innovation systematically and early. Engineering is all about creatingfrom new ideas and products to discovering improved ways of maintaining and utilizing what we already have. Sustainability, sensors and big data, improved efficiency, safety, and even the beauty of what we createthe challenges facing the modern engineering graduate are monumental and require effective design thinking. To produce great designs, engineers must be innovative. This requirement is as old as engineering itself. In order to innovate, one must be creative and imaginative. 1 In aspirational documents published by the National Academy of Engineers 2 and the American Society of Civil Engineers 3 , the call for developing engineers who possess these skills has been clearly made. Beyond the mandate of our professional societies, there is also the clear mandate to be inclusive in all we undertake. Recent studies suggest that creative freshmen students are either leaving engineering to pursue other interests, or are degrading their creative abilities by the time they are senior engineering students. 4,5 To reverse this trend, we must create opportunities for student expression and demonstration of skills beyond simple computation and to make these opportunities available early in the curriculum, so that every student can see where they are adding value to the process before deciding that engineering just isn't their thing and changing majors. If all the creativity and innovation are late in the game, some players might leave before the end of the first half. This argument is made in depth by Bruhl and Klosky 6 .
doi:10.18260/1-2--34376 fatcat:rte24mkbrzfubdyvwzvvftfpja