SAP is collaborating with University of Notre Dame faculty on a unique new engineering course that applies Design Thinking and Design Doing to community challenges.  I had the pleasure of leading two sessions of the course earlier this month.  Students were provided with a simple introduction to the Design Thinking and also an overview of SAP’s Build which will provide the overall methodology for the course.

Notre Dame continues to innovate around its curriculum for engineering students and is exploring a program around “Global Challenges.” The concept is to build a program based on problem-solving that changes the conversation for students, especially in the context of modern engineering challenges which cannot hope to be solved within the context of a single engineering discipline. The proposed “Global Challenges” (GC) exist at the intersection of:

This intersection creates the strategic identity of a Notre Dame Engineer. Though the mapping of these GC’s would evolve over time with modern challenges, the current framework suggests these five domains:

1. Environment

2. Human Health

3. Energy

4. Security

5. Economic Development

One of the early courses to develop this domain is the Community Based Engineering Design Projects course which includes students from multiple engineering majors and is described as follows:

  • This project-based course combines theory and practice to give students the opportunity to apply their engineering curriculum to real projects with transformative impact in a community. The course will draw from existing resources within Notre Dame to provide a framework for students to learn the theory, methodology, and skills necessary to implement their projects. Students will be paired with mentors and community partners to work on projects that will impact the South Bend region and beyond. The scope of the projects will include researching the project theme and local context, defining the problem, brainstorming solutions, prototyping multiple solutions, and piloting the most viable prototype. Prototypes could include simulations, MATLAB graphical user interfaces, or benchtop physical models depending on the type of project. At the end of the semester, students will use feedback on the pilot project to prepare transition plans and scopes of work for future project execution on a larger scale by the partner organization. The primary partner for these projects will be the Bowman Creek Educational Ecosystem (www.bowmancreek.org) focusing on project areas within South Bend. Other organizations such as student groups or community organizations may serve as additional partners. Project topics may include, but are not limited to, smart green infrastructure, water management, data analytics, internet of things, and smartphone app development.

The course collaboration is supported by Andrea Anderson and Rana Chakrabarti of SAP’s Design Thinking team who are providing expert assistance, guest lectures and design resources for the course.

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