A component of entrepreneurial mindset


Connections is a component of the entrepreneurial mindset. It is the second of what we call the 3Cs (Curiosity, Connections, Creating Value).

For engineers to succeed in a world in which data is exponentially increasing, they will need to broaden their thinking and see multiple viewpoints and solutions. Faculty can help students build a mindset that connects multiple spheres of context, systems, data, and experiences.

One valuable aspect of connections is systems-thinking. Another is the intersection of ideas. How do you foster an approach that allows students to see and bring together multiple viewpoints - and solutions?

How To Teach Connections

Connections is getting students to:

  • Integrate information from many sources.
  • Think outside of the box.
  • Find new ideas at the intersection of disparate concepts.
  • Assess consequences.
  • Take calculated risks in order to pursue goals.
  • Possess a willingness to learn from mistakes.
  • Understand a system's behavior.
  • Recognize the interactions and interdependencies between components.
  • Identify leverage points where interventions can have significant impact.
  • Frame ideas in terms of other people's needs, perspectives, and motivations.

Design exercises so that students:

  • Mentally integrate technical topics, relating one to another.
  • Think about the potential unintended consequences of their work.
  • Plan for decisions associated with increasing scale or production.
  • Habitually assess “What if?” with regard to connections to key people, organizations, political environments, regulations, competitors, processes, and design changes.

Classroom Materials

Connections: What Do We Mean?

Engineering is seldom within a vacuum; context matters. What if every engineering graduate understood the connections to their work?

Ideation Techniques: Introductory Videos & Materials

Supercharge the early stages of the design process! Use painstorming, bisociation, and biomimicry to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of design solutions.

Concept Mapping: Assess student understanding

Students perform customer interviews with the professor to understand customer needs and integrate information from many sources to gain insight.

PBL: Problem-Based Learning

Storytelling, guided discussions, and stage-setting lead students through a vibrant, investigative project.

Flying Forces: Connecting with Course Content

Integrate this project into a core engineering course for students to discover levels of complexity that require the integration of a broad range of skills.

Innovation: Bio-Inspired Concepts

The concept-knowledge theory of design scaffolds the discovery and knowledge transfer processes involved in using natural designs to inspire engineering solutions.

[VIDEO] What if we taught our students to see connections?

Dr. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) asks us to imagine what the world would be like if engineering faculty inspired students to see connections between their technical skills and the world around them.

EU_swoosh_transbg.png Get more Connections resources.

EU_swoosh_transbg.png Continue exploring the 3Cs:

Curiosity_button_new.png      CreatingValue_button_new.png