Engineering design processes and practices: From preschool to professional practice
Engineering design is a fundamental aspect of engineering work and engineers' identities, and as such is also a core focus for engineering education research. Engineering design is practiced and taught in a variety of ways, but research suggest that there are some coherent patterns of engineering design processes, and in particular distinct differences between the processes and practices of experienced practitioners as compared to undergraduate engineering students. This provides a framework for how we might consider engineering design education in undergraduate programs. At the same time, engineering design is increasingly taught in pre-college settings (both in school and out-of-school) and research is now offering insights into how children might practice developmentally-appropriate versions of engineering design processes. In this talk I will share findings from studies of engineering practitioners; undergraduate students'; and preschool-aged children's engineering design behavior, as well as suggestions for design education in both school and out-of-school settings.
Monica E. Cardella is the Director of the INSPIRE Research Institute for Pre-College Engineering and an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She regularly teaches First-Year Engineering courses, design courses for Multidisciplinary Engineering students, and graduate courses related to engineering learning in informal environments. She has degrees in Mathematics (BSc, University of Puget Sound) and Industrial Engineering (MS, PhD, University of Washington) and was an NAE CASEE Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University. Her research interests include engineering design processes and practices; engineering design education; the role of mathematics in engineering; computational thinking in early elementary school; and parents' roles in pre-college engineering education. Recently, she has been interested in exploring alternative modes of sharing research findings. With this in mind, she has enjoyed working on Purdue's Engineering Gift Guide and talking with the public through venues such as "Science on Tap."