Connections

Imagine if your students could see the connections between all of their technical skills and the world around them.
- Dr. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz, Assistant Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Teaching students to gain insights from the world

University of Dayton students

For engineers to succeed in a world in which data is exponentially increasing, they will need to connect the unconnected. They must be able to see the landscape and map the intersection of ideas. That is the power of connections. 

This can be a systems-thinking approach. An approach that allows them to see multiple viewpoints and solutions. To broaden their thinking and champion ideas that may not be popular. To expand their worldview, taking in information as it comes, recalling it, and connecting knowledge and data to gain insight. 

Engineering faculty can help students develop agile mental habits that interconnect events and information. You can help them build a mindset that connects multiple spheres of context, systems, data, and even experiences. 

Students with this mindset are able to connect knowledge. To think outside the box. They are able to distill and make sense of disparate and disconnected data. Your Engineering Unleashed community provides you with tools and resources that you can use to build engineering students with a connected mindset.

JMU students

What if we taught our students to see connections?

Dr. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz, Assistant Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, asks us to imagine what the world would be like if engineering faculty inspired students to see connections between their technical skills and the world around them. 

Through her teaching approaches, Dr. Wodin-Schwartz is inspiring her students to do just that, and in the process, is instilling in them a mindset that will make them change-makers.

How to Inspire Your Students to Make Connections

Interdisciplinary connection-making is essential to the advancement of knowledge. To make that happen, you can design exercises so that your students:

  • Mentally integrate technical topics, relating one to another
  • Think about the potential unintended consequences of their work
  • Plan for decisions associated with increasing scale or production
  • Habitually assess “What if?” with regard to connections to key people, organizations, political environments, regulations, competitors, processes, and design changes

The KEEN Framework

Mindset bicycle

The KEEN Framework describes Connections in terms of these two areas:

  • Integrate information from many sources to gain insight.
  • Assess and manage risk.

Resources

The Engineering Unleashed community has created resources you can use in your classrooms. You will find resources ranging from “quick-wins” to complete course overhauls to inspire the rising generation of engineers to make connections. 

Here are a few examples to get you started:

Explore the other C's: