The design of complex systems (e.g., aircraft, large-scale urban infrastructure) and the development of solutions to our grand challenges (e.g., renewable energy solutions, worldwide access to clean water) are the result of collaborative work by individuals from multiple disciplines. To support the effective design of these systems and solutions, members of industry have called for engineering graduates who can view design from a systems perspective and understand the societal, environmental, and economic context in which engineering is practiced.
As educators and researchers, we may ask ourselves how we can support our students’ preparation for this collaborative, interdisciplinary work environment. More specifically, I am proposing the following question:
How can we leverage theories about, and the practices used in, engineering practice to support the development of learning environments that prepare students to innovate, collaborate, and design solutions to complex challenges?
In this talk, you will hear about two examples of research projects focused on exploring engineering practice and work environments: (1) Integration of Stakeholder Considerations in Complex Systems Design and (2) Role of Communicative Artifacts in Design Decision-Making. Then we will reflect on and discuss not only how these studies can support engineering education research and practice, but also what other areas of opportunity there are for engineering education researchers to examine aspects of engineering practice
Dr. Alexandra Coso Strong is an Assistant Professor of Systems Design and Engineering at Olin College. She is an aerospace and systems engineer by training, with degrees from MIT, the University of Virginia, and Georgia Tech. Alexandra has been conducting engineering education research since the start of graduate school and also worked as a postdoctoral fellow in Georgia Tech’s Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning. Her teaching and research passions lie at the intersection of engineering education, cognitive engineering, and systems design. At Olin, Alexandra teaches courses in human-centered design, educational design, and modeling and simulation. Outside of the classroom, she conducts research on the experiences of early career educators and faculty and designs learning experiences for educators, related to evidence-based teaching practices and/or student-centered course design. She also collaborates with students as part of the Researching Engineering, Design, & Educational Systems (Re-Des) team. Their current project is to examine how communicative artifacts are used in engineering work environments.