Three Courses Every Engineering Institution Should Consider Adding

In addition to teaching core engineering subjects, I think we need to add three (may be optional) courses.

1. Entrepreneurship
2. Learning and Thinking
3. Innovation

The idea is to give students an appreciation of what entrepreneurship is all about. Students joining smaller start-ups learn every thing faster in the first few years (though may not make as much money).

We take both learning and thinking for granted. The best training we can give students is the ability to understand how they learn and think. We can include several aspects of thinking including critical thinking, later thinking, thinking about thinking etc. Learning to learn is taught implicitly (by just forcing them to learn a lot). Increasing awareness of learning styles, multiple intelligence will help students realize several ways to accelerate their learning.

Innovation is taking ideas and realizing an implementation (the joy of doing). Most of the labs I see repeat some standard set of problems. Why not let the students do a bit of exploration and research in problems they are interested in solving and innovate in identifying and solving problems?

Posted via email from Dorai’s posterous

Why, How and Why Not?

As children, we are always questioning people. As we grow older, we question less and less and accept more.  Corinne Miller, suggests that this may be because of the perception that asking questions is a sign weakness and describes how we can change this.

“What’s your favorite question? Over the years we’ve found that the most popular answers to this question are ‘why,’ ‘how,’ and ‘why not’ in that order. A trend we’ve also observed is that those who ask ‘why’ are typically more holistic or whole-brained thinkers, those who ask ‘how’ are typically more box thinkers, and those who ask ‘why not’ are typically the challenging thinkers. All types, of course, are equally valuable and equally required for innovation!”

Questions stimulate the brain! Questions use verbs and words that activate key areas of the brain that, in turn, increase the volume and variety of questions. The more questions, the more creativity and innovation. We like to say that questions open the innovation pipeline.

This article questions why people do not question and suggest ways of changing this.

  • Why as you become older, we question less and less?
  • How do we build questioning into a part of  business culture?
  • Four steps in developing question banks – identifying, collecting, organizing and refining

One of the habits I am trying to develop among our interns and students is to keep a log of the following activities.

  1. A question log
  2. A learning log (things that they learn on a daily basis)
  3. An idea log

I personally use a personally wiki for this. After reading this article, we may want to extend the wiki to act as a question bank for each project.