What You Need to Know About Connections

Making connections between disparate sources to gain insight is a key component of the entrepreneurial mindset. This is the second of what we call the 3C’s (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 even experiences. 

One valuable aspect of connections is systems-thinking. This is an approach that allows engineers to see multiple viewpoints and solutions. Even when scoped to a local community or organization, systems-thinking is an essential element of an entrepreneurially-minded individual.

Another valuable aspect is the intersection of ideas. Associative thinking, engineering based biomimicry, and others can emphasize connections to you and your students.

Community-Created Resources

Help students broaden their thinking, see the landscape, and map the intersection of ideas. Use this starter pack of resources shared by faculty:



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

Ideation Techniques

Introductory videos & materials

Supercharge the early stages of the design process with painstorming, bisociation, and biomimicry to dramatically increase the quality and quantity of design solutions.
Concept Mapping

Concept Mapping

Assess student understanding

Use this tool throughout the semester as students identify and make connections of topics within a course or across curricula.

Problem Based Learning


Problem-Based Learning

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

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.


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.

More Resources

The Engineering Unleashed community provides many tested resources that help you teach connections in your classroom!

Connections: Gaining Insights From the World

What if we taught our students to see connections? 

Dr. Sarah Wodin-Schwartz, Assistant Teaching Professor of Mechanical Engineering at 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. 

Through her teaching approaches, Dr. Wodin-Schwartz is inspiring her students to do just that, and in the process, is instilling in them a mindset that will make them change-makers.

How can faculty inspire students to make connections? 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

More Mindset Learning



The first "C"

For engineers to succeed in a world with rapidly changing needs and tools, they need a sense of curiosity. Faculty who instill a spirit of curiosity equip students to create extraordinary results.
Creating Value

Creating Value

The third "C"

Teaching your students the importance of creating value helps redirect their mindset and motivation--leading to more impactful engineering solutions.
KEEN Framework

The Framework

A downloadable guide

Help students understand the importance of opportunity and impact in the context of design with this adoptable, adaptable guide to entrepreneurially minded learning.
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