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12-04-2007: Workshop on Engineering Reasoning with Dr. Rob Niewoehner
2008 Workshop on Engineering Reasoning with Dr Rob Niewoehner
The Foundation for Critical Thinking to Host
Dillon Beach, CA (December 4, 2007) – The Foundation for Critical Thinking announced today it will host a 3-day workshop on Engineering Reasoning with Dr. Rob Niewoehner, Director of Aeronautics at the US Naval Academy. The workshop will be held at the Berkeley Doubletree Hotel and Marina, near the UC Berkeley Campus on February 29 through March 2, 2008.
”Engineering increasingly attends to systems of systems, where the product of the engineer’s intellect exhibits complex interactions with other systems, markets, technologies, the environment, and society,” says Dr. Niewoehner. “Additionally, the workplace demands that an individual engineer continually develops, mastering new learning while dealing with new increasing complexities. The thinking skills of students and young engineers provide the foundation for that growth in school and in the workplace. So, when instruction explicitly targets their thinking skills, it provides them leverage for learning both in class and on the job,” he said.
The term, “critical thinking,” is sometimes used as an educational buzz phrase, which generally presumes implicit rigor in educational programs. Or, substantively expressed, critical thinking becomes a “system opening system;” a lever for both cracking open new domains as well as a lens for intensifying insights into the web of connections that characterize engineering work.
These generalizable critical thinking skills and dispositions should “guide professional reasoning through complex engineering questions and issues, whether technological, commercial, environmental, ethical, or social,” said Niewoehner. “Yet our students do not naturally think using the tools of critical thinking. They don’t intuit the important questions they should be asking of themselves, of teachers, of colleagues, of customers or vendors to either guide their understanding or to refine their thinking. We can leave them to learn these skills fitfully over their career, if they do at all, or we can direct and coach them,” said Niewoehner.
Designed for the engineering educator as well as the industry leader, the Workshop on Engineering Reasoning has centered its focus on contextualizing the concepts of critical thinking as they apply to any engineering discipline. It asks “How can we help young engineers to recognize and articulate the important questions at the heart of all high quality engineering reasoning? Here the workshop develops the elements of reasoning, the intellectual standards and the intellectual traits as templates for analyzing engineering thinking. It also asks “How can we diffuse critical thinking skills through our instruction and business practices? It then directly addresses the challenges posed by the thorniest of ABET 2000 “a-k” criteria: lifelong learning, teamwork, ethical and professional responsibility, and effective communications. Workshop participants will utilize the “Thinker’s Guide to Engineering Reasoning,” written by Dr. Richard Paul, Dr. Rob Niewoehner, and Dr. Linda Elder, and published by the Foundation for Critical Thinking.
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Dr. Rob Niewoehner, Director of Aeronautics at the U. S. Naval Academy: He served as a senior experimental test pilot with government/industry teams prior to joining academia. He received his B.S. in 1981 from the U.S. Naval Academy, his M.S.E.E. in 1981 from The Johns Hopkins University, and his Ph.D. in 1994 from the Naval Postgraduate School. He is among the early contributors to the international CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) consortium, tackling the reform of engineering education and emphasizing the engineer as learner and practitioner. He has worked diligently during the past several years to bring critical thinking into his classes at all levels and into engineering and leadership instruction from both program and institutional perspectives. And, he is a dynamic presenter.