In 1997, the F.W. Olin Foundation established Olin College of Engineering with a visionary and unprecedented grant “to be an important and constant contributor to the advancement of engineering education in America and throughout the world.” From day one, Olin had no departments or tenured faculty, allowing for true collaboration and integration of efforts.
At Olin, it’s not just about what students know, but what they do with that knowledge. Every student learns about software, electronics and mechanical systems, and has several chances to work with students from other majors on interdisciplinary projects.
Olin is excited to join KEEN and brings its spirit of collaboration into its engagements with other network schools and faculty.
Olin’s approach and alignment with KEEN are exemplified in the following video highlighting our User Oriented Collaborative Design (UOCD) course. In UOCD, our focus is on user-oriented, collaborative approaches to design and seeking holistic solutions to problems by integrating user and functional perspectives. We emphasize the importance of process and the development of strategies. Students immerse themselves in their curiosity as they observe and engage people to develop a deep understanding of their values and the patterns of their lives, and then make connections and develop detailed concepts and models of authentic new products and services. They work collaboratively in a studio environment to generate a shared understanding of the people they design for (and with) and create value with the product ideas they develop. Topics covered include design thinking, ethnographic methods, concept development and interaction design.
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We need to incorporate new elements into engineering students’ education to give them both the skillset and mindset needed to become leaders in addressing societal challenges.