Seeking Best Practices

As the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering moves forward, design will be a central focus of the school’s educational model. As part of the school's continuous improvement program and to ensure the adoption of best practices from peer institutions, Dean Chell Roberts led a group of engineering faculty — Dr. Rick Olson, Dr. Susan Lord, Dr. Leonard Perry, Dr. Ernest Kim, Dr. Daniel Codd, Dr. David Malicky, Dr. Odesma Dalrymple, Dr. Frank Jacobitz, and Dr. David Mayhew — to Stanford University to meet with two of the preeminent thought leaders on the subject of design, Dr. Larry Leifer of Stanford, and Ozgur Eris of Delft University in the Netherlands. This group spent two days exchanging information and moving forward on the instructional methodology that USD’s engineering program will adopt to help its students become not just great engineers, but capable designers as well.

Over the space of two days, many ideas were shared, but conceptually, perhaps the most interesting results were presented by Dr. Leifer, when he indicated that the most reliable predictor of success on a project, was the degree of empathy the members of a team have for each other and for their engineering project’s target customers. The more effort an individual invests in understanding and meeting the needs of others, the more individual success that person realizes.

Another exciting part of the two-day visit was seeing Stanford’s design space. There was a lot of space that was open and flexible. Some space was developed intentionally as a connection between traditional engineering design and creative ideation. There were nooks, lofts, collaborative studios, and a Makery where new ideas were transformed into prototypes. In “The Loft,” early prototypes of projects sponsored from industry partners hung from the rafters. Dean Roberts’ faculty will be bringing both the idea of empathy and of creative design space as central tenants back to USD for integration into the programs of study within the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.