“Suppose the World Were Already Lost”: Worst Case Design and the Engineering Imagination at Harvey Mudd College

Title“Suppose the World Were Already Lost”: Worst Case Design and the Engineering Imagination at Harvey Mudd College
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsWisnioski, M
JournalEngineering Studies
Volume6
Pagination65-86
Date Published2014/05/04
Publication Languageeng
ISBN Number1937-8629
AbstractThis article investigates the origins, goals, and outcomes of modern design-based engineering education in the USA by analyzing an interdisciplinary project that asked students to collaboratively prepare for nuclear holocaust. Project NOAH, conducted at Harvey Mudd College, a pioneering institution in student-centered engineering education, generated national publicity and established an approach to design pedagogy that was observed, appropriated, and developed in parallel elsewhere. In addition to an exploration of the Cold War transformations of the meaning of design in US engineering education, Project NOAH offers three insights for today's efforts to cultivate students' design imagination. First, it reveals how the project's creators conceived of interdisciplinary problem-based design education as "good" engineering amid competing institutional, pedagogical, and societal contestations about the future of the profession. Second, it highlights the persistence of individual and collective tensions encountered by educators and students engaged in ?real world? design curricula. Third, the project's directive to preserve culture in the wake of a human-made "worst case" disaster illuminates the knotted relationship between dominant practices of American engineering, the reformers who seek to alter them, and the nature of technology itself.
URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1080/19378629.2014.931407
DOI10.1080/19378629.2014.931407

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