The Design I program at Colorado School of Mines introduces open-ended problem-solving and stakeholder engagement to all first-year engineering and applied science students. Since 2015, this program has implemented a variety of stakeholder-related deliverables for the approximately 600 students who take the course each semester. One of the learning objectives for the course is to teach students to seek out and draw on the perspectives of people who have a stake in the problems they choose to define and address. In order to help engineering students build skills and confidence in these key areas, Design I challenges them and supports them as they engage with team-based open-ended problem solving. Stakeholder engagement and related skills are regarded by many educators and practitioners as essential to engineering, but presenting these topics to students in ways that seem integrated into their technical training is not a simple undertaking. Stakeholder work can pose particular challenges related to practical project management, to conceptual work, and to the way that students understand themselves. In this paper, we present preliminary findings related to faculty and student assessments of challenges related to the program’s existing stakeholder engagement curriculum. The research that this paper describes is a baseline assessment of challenges students experience related to the goals of this course and the development of skills that will support their ongoing development as thoughtful engineers with implications for future program development in support of these goals.
Elizabeth Reddy is a social scientist, holding a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California at Irvine and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. She is Co-Chair of the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing in the American Anthropological Association. She studies experts and their work in relation to environments, technologies, and human lives. Her current research projects deal with earthquake risk management technology in Mexico and the United States, environmental data justice in the US/Mexican borderlands, and the development and practice of engineering expertise.
Leslie Light is an Associate Teaching Professor in the Engineering, Design, and Society Division at the Colorado School of Mines, and the Director of the Cornerstone Design@Mines program. She received a B.S. in General Engineering, Product Design from Stanford University and an MBA from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Entrepreneurial Management. Prior to joining Mines she spent 20 years as a designer, project manager, and portfolio manager in Fortune 500 companies and smaller firms in the Silicon Valley and abroad. She is passionate about bringing the user-centered design principles she learned at Stanford and in her career to Mines' open-ended problem solving program, and is working with others on campus to establish a broader integrated context for innovation and design.
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