Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2016
  • Online publication date: November 2016

13 - Nurturing Creativity in the Engineering Classroom

from PART II - VOICES FROM THE RESEARCH

Summary

Creativity Is Vital to Engineering

Throughout history, a key factor in human development has been our ability to solve problems. Those problems take a variety of forms, but many of the most critical ones have been problems that are highly amenable to the application of engineering in the sense defined by the U.S. Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) – that is, solutions that, at their core, make use of the “materials and forces of nature for the benefit of mankind”. Thus, the problem of warmth and shelter was solved by mankind's ability to create structures from stone, wood and other materials. The problem of feeding large numbers of people was tackled by the development of the plough and irrigation. Problems of health were solved by the creation of systems for removing and processing waste. Our success at solving these problems through the application of engineering has resulted in rapid growth and development.

It is important to note, however, that this process of problem solving for human development is highly dynamic in nature. We are all too familiar with the fact that each solution that is developed contains the seeds of new problems. The solutions developed and applied since the industrial revolution – for example, steam engines, the use of coal as a fuel, the development of internal combustion engines, the exploitation of oil – have provided many benefits, but they also have given rise to new problems that themselves must be addressed. Pollution and climate change, for example, are by-products of earlier solutions that now stimulate both a drive to replace those older technologies with better and more efficient solutions, as well as a push to mitigate the undesirable effects of earlier systems.

Where does creativity come into play in this process of engineering solutions for the needs of mankind? The cycle of problem–solution–problem–solution has one distinct characteristic that explains why creativity is so vital to engineering, and therefore to society. Every time a new problem emerges – one that is unprecedented or has never been seen before – it is axiomatic that previous solutions will not be suitable.

Baillie, C. (2002). Enhancing creativity in engineering students. Engineering Science & Education Journal, 11(5), 185–192.
Bateman, K. (2013, 18 April). IT students miss out on roles due to lack of creativity. ComputerWeekly.com.
Buhl, H. R. (1960). Creative engineering design. Iowa City: Iowa State University Press.
Cooper, C., Altman, W., & Garner, A. (2002). Inventing for business success. New York: Texere.
Cropley, A. J. (1992). More ways than one: Fostering creativity. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.
Cropley, D. H. (2015). Creativity in engineering: Novel solutions to complex problems. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Cropley, D. H., & Cropley, A. J. (2005). Engineering creativity: A systems concept of functional creativity. In Kaufman, J. C. & Baer, J. (Eds.), Faces of the muse: How people think, work and act creatively in diverse domains (pp. 169–185). Hillsdale: NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Elliott, C., & Deasley, P. (Eds.). (2007). Creating systems that work: Principles of engineering systems for the 21st century. London: The Royal Academy of Engineering.
Fasko, D. (2001). Education and creativity. Creativity Research Journal, 13(3–4), 317–327.
Guilford, J. P. (1950). Creativity. American Psychologist, 5, 444–454.
Iansiti, M. (1993). Real-world R&D: Jumping the product generation gap. Harvard Business Review, 71(3), 138–147.
Karjalainen, T.-M., Koria, M., & Salimaki, M. (2009). Educating T-shaped design, business and engineering professionals. Paper presented at the 19th CIRP Design Conference, Cranfield University.
Kazerounian, K., & Foley, S. (2007). Barriers to creativity in engineering education: A study of instructors and students perceptions. Journal of Mechanical Design, 129, 761–768.
Kelley, T., & Littman, J. (2005). The ten faces of innovation: IDEO's strategies for defeating the devil's advocate and driving creativity throughout your organization. New York: Doubleday.
Oskam, I. F. (2009). T-shaped engineers for interdisciplinary innovation: an attractive perspective for young people as well as a must for innovative organisations. Paper presented at the 37th Annual Conference – Attracting students in Engineering, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.
Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1995). Defying the crowd: Cultivating creativity in a culture of conformity. New York: Free Press.
Sternberg, R. J., & Williams, W. M. (1996). How to develop student creativity. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tilbury, D., Reid, A., & Podger, D. (2003). Action research for university staff: Changing curricula and graduate skills towards sustainability, Stage 1 Report. Canberra: Environment Australia.