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Identifying Dilemmas Embodied in 21st Century Engineering

[+] Author Affiliations
Christon Bertus, Amirhossein Khosrojerdi, Janet K. Allen, Farrokh Mistree

University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Jitesh H. Panchal

Washington State University, Pullman, WA

Paper No. DETC2012-71163, pp. 161-174; 14 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 7: 9th International Conference on Design Education; 24th International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4506-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


The pedagogy and outcomes of a course Designing for Open Innovation designed to empower 21st century engineering students to develop competencies associated with innovating in an inter-connected technologically flat world are described in four parts:

1. Competencies for Innovating in the 21st Century, [1].

2. Developing Competencies in the 21st Century Engineer, [2].

3. Identifying Dilemmas Embodied in 21st Century Engineering - this paper.

4. Managing Dilemmas Embodied in 21st Century Engineering, [3].

In the first paper we describe the core characteristics of the engineering in an interconnected world and identify the key competencies and meta-competencies that 21st century engineers will need to innovate and negotiate solutions to issues associated with the realization of systems.

In the second paper, we describe our approach to fostering learning and the development of competencies by an individual in a group setting. We focus on empowering the students to learn how to learn as individuals in a geographically distanced, collaborative group setting.

We assert that two of the core competencies required for success in the dynamically changing workplace are the competencies to first identify and then to manage dilemmas. In this paper, we illustrate how students have gone about identifying dilemmas and in the fourth paper how they have attempted to manage dilemmas. In papers three and four students briefly describe the challenges that they faced and their takeaways in the form of team learning and individual learning.

We suggest that dilemmas associated with innovation cannot be solved they can only be managed. We assert that 20th century problem solving paradigms are ineffective for addressing 21st century dilemmas in which there are multiple and diverse stakeholders who are called on to find an acceptable solution to the competing interests such as profit, environment and socio-cultural. In this paper, we focus on how the students learned to identify dilemmas associated with the realization of complex, sustainable, socio-techno-eco systems, namely, energy policy design. The principal outcome is clearly not the result attained but a student’s ability to learn how to learn as illustrated through the development of personal competencies of two students (Bertus and Khosrojerdi) in a collaborative learning framework and environment.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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