Traditional skills, non-traditional demographic : rethinking novice digital design tool education for outside the engineering major
- While the changing nature of design activity is a topic supported by a range of popular and academic publications, the role that design tools have taken in that change is less well studied. The tools used in the trade, both by industrial designers and mechanical engineers, have undergone a rapid transformation in the last fifty years. The research that has been performed on design tools has centered on technological developments. There has also been notable popular speculation on how an expanded user base might take advantage of accessible design tools. However, there have been few formal studies of how novice users, especially those outside of the professions traditionally associated with CAD and 3D printing, can learn and implement these tools. Access to CAD and a 3D printer is not enough to enable users with ideas to realize them. The users must also be taught the affordances and limitations of the tools in order to use them. The existing research on CAD education was developed primarily for engineering college students. Because the technology has only been accessible to non-engineering professionals in the last few years, it is unknown if the existing educational methods are acceptable for the wider demographic, or if they can be improved upon. This knowledge gap leads to the following research questions: -Do engineering college students and non-engineering students learn digital design tools differently? -How are students' perceived ability to learn digital design tools affected by their professional identity and confidence? -What unique challenges do teachers face in educating non-engineering students in digital design tool use? To answer these questions, a survey of existing mechanical engineering degree programs was conducted to document existing digital tool education approaches. The information gathered from institutional web-sites was paired with a set of ten in-depth interviews of digital tool education professionals to produce three models of existing education approaches. Three independent, in depth case studies were then conducted in three different learning environments: a traditional mechanical drawing/CAD class taught to engineering college students, a new CAD and 3D printing class taught to a mixed group of undergraduate and graduate college students, and a CAD and 3D printing workshop taught to a group of practicing nurses. These case studies supported the educational models proposed in the earlier program surveys and interviews, and highlighted the conflicts that arose from the models inherent assumptions about their target demographic. These conflicts arose primarily from educational systems built for a single context of digital tool use engaging with students who wish to apply them in radically different contexts. The context mismatch between education model and student is particularly troublesome given that contextual knowledge, as opposed to detailed operational or strategic knowledge, was found to have the greatest impact on rapidly building design confidence in novices. Built on these findings, a new educational model, emphasizing end use context and ongoing, as needed education, is proposed as a guide to further curriculum development for the non-traditional student and classroom.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stephenson, Katherine J
|Stanford University, Department of Mechanical Engineering.
|Leifer, Larry J
|Leifer, Larry J
|Sheppard, S. (Sheri)
|Sheppard, S. (Sheri)
|Statement of responsibility
|Katherine J. Stephenson.
|Submitted to the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2017.
- © 2017 by Katherine Jo Stephenson
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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