Curiosity

To solve society's greatest challenges, we need engineers who can apply curiosity and creativity to the technical skillsets they have in order to come up with truly innovative ideas. This is where an entrepreneurial mindset becomes important!
- AnnMarie Thomas, Professor, School of Engineering and Opus School of Business, University of St. Thomas

Curiosity: A Fundamental Motivator

Hand with round magnifying glass

Curiosity is one of the components of an entrepreneurial mindset, the first of what we call the 3C’s. Curiosity is invaluable for uncovering essential and unexpected information that shapes engineering solutions.

Faculty who instill a spirit of curiosity equip students to create extraordinary results. In the context of engineering education, fostering a mindset of curiosity is a learned skill that has lifelong benefits.

An engineer who utilizes curiosity will discover new ways of approaching society’s needs and solutions.

Controlled, directed, and productive curiosity is at the root of discovery. The Engineering Unleashed community provides many tested resources that help you teach curiosity in your classroom.

Engineering Unleashed resources can help you teach your students how to use curiosity.

For example, you can create an information gap that stimulates questioning and discovery. As a result, you’ll see an increased willingness to take risks. Student performance with regard to technical learning objectives will also improve. And you’ll see increased social curiosity.

Light bulbs

What You Need to Know About Curiosity

You can be curious about a big thing. "I wonder if a person could walk on the moon." 

You can be curious about a small thing. "I wonder if we could prevent socks from clinging together in the dryer."

Big or small, questioning leads us to solutions. Too little curiosity in the classroom can cause boredom. Too much can create anxiety. How do you reach the right balance?

You'll find more resources at the bottom of this page.

How to Inspire Curiosity in Your Students

For engineers to succeed in a world with rapidly changing needs and tools, they need a sense of curiosity. The more you expose students to situations that stimulate their curiosity, the more curiosity becomes a mental habit. 

  • Watch “Tycho Brahe & How to Inspire Curiosity in Students” by Dr. Margot Vigeant (Bucknell University)
  • Bring real-life issues to class and create situations where students will be curious and self-motivated 
  • Ask students to share their own concerns and challenges. 

Engineers with a mindset of curiosity will uncover and investigate a broader spectrum of possibilities. They’ll use their desire to know “Why?” and “What if?” to keep their skills and solutions relevant throughout their careers.

The Curiosity of a Mythbuster

Do you believe curiosity is an effort of will?

Mythbusters co-host, Jamie Hyneman, does. 

“[Curiosity] is something that’s effectively creativity at its core," he states. "It’s underappreciated as far as engineering is concerned. Engineering is something that pervades our entire lives. Engineers need to be curious. That’s the hard part and the most valuable part.”

The KEEN Framework

Tandem bicycle

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

  • Demonstrate constant curiosity about our changing world.
  • Explore a contrarian view of accepted solutions.

Resources

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education,” Albert Einstein is credited as saying. Use these resources to explore and test curiosity:

Explore the other C's: