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Adding Creativity to the Curriculum

Creativity is a choice attribute, right up there with innovation and invention. Usually a quality associated with artists and writers, it is sometimes used to describe a scientist but rarely an engineer. More and more, however, there are engineering educators who contend that engineering, by its very nature, is the creative application of scientific principles. This school of thought holds that creativity can and should be taught—indeed, that an engineering education without coursework in how to be creative does a disservice to students and to the profession. But how do you teach creativity? This month’s cover story, “Expanding the Mind,” looks at how some engineering schools are rising to this challenge.

Neil Armstrong is famous for being the first man to walk on the moon. The flight of Apollo 11 and Armstrong’s “giant leap for mankind” have been hailed as being among the greatest achievements of 20th-century science and engineering. How Armstrong became that NASA astronaut, how the accompanying fame affected his life, and what happened next, can be found in “An Engineer First.”

Francis C. Moon, a mechanical engineering professor at Cornell University, discovered a priceless collection of mechanical models stashed away in various university storage areas, gathering dust. Moon and other faculty members recovered the devices and began using them as teaching tools. Their instant popularity with students posed a problem for the irreplaceable collection. The article “Pure Motion” explains how technology and the creation of a digital library of kinematic models are preserving the collection for the future. John Saylor, director of Cornell University’s engineering and computer science library, will give a talk about the kinematic models at the annual conference.

I hope you plan to join us at ASEE’s 2004 annual conference in Salt Lake City, June 20-23. It looks like this may be our biggest and best conference yet—you won’t want to miss it.

As always, I welcome your comments and thoughts.

Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher
f.huband@asee.org

 

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