Friday, September 15, 2006

I. ENGINEERING DESIGN, 2. Improving Engineering Education

A forum, “Literacy in Technology”, that will take place September 21, 2006 at the Museum of Science in Boston, sparked today’s post. The Boston Globe, one of the sponsors for the event, doesn’t go as far as I do with engineering as American culture, but says: “In today’s human-made world, technology and engineering are a part of everything we touch. The National Center for Technology Literacy (NCTL) at the Museum of Science is designed to work with educators, government and industry leadersTO INTEGRATE ENGINEERING AS A NEW DISCIPLINE AS EARLY AS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and continue it through high school, college and beyond.” Bernard M. Gordon, who is funding the Center with $20 million, says: “Engineering education has become too specialized … graduates can’t see the big picture. [And] American students are shifting away from engineering.” From my experiences for a decade working on engineering design grants in fashion from the National Science Foundation, I learned that these are some sad truths.

I am attending the forum to offer to play a part repeating some creative seminars I did in the 1990s, “HAT ENGINEERING PROJECT” for 140 seventh grade students , and later 40 third grade students. The motivation for math and geometry to understand the 2-D & 3-D translations in pattern engineering of hats – WAS AMAZING! Interesting, especially for the boys, was that I started with the 2-D & 3-D translations in a few sports balls, e.g. basketball, volley ball and baseball. When you make it a big picture, such as some fun history of hats, the relationship to the shapes of boats and airplanes, how 2-D flats (patterns) and 3-D fashion shapes need the x, y, z, coordinates for doing the engineering in computers (for 7th graders only), they loved the experiences of learning about engineering. Of course, they also loved creating and designing their own hats, which I call “engineering design”. If I get some response of interest, I could post some of the things I did in the Hat Engineering Project.

In yesterday’s post I talked about the sad decline of the fashion industry in America, BECAUSE DESIGNERS LACKED ENGINEERING PRINCIPLES IN THEIR EDUCATION. The fashion apparel industry desperately needs, not just technical designers who follow outdated rules, but creative designers who can also design and engineer their fashions to enable efficient production. To present engineering design principles related to fashion, at an early age, especially for girls, could truly help the future of fashion in America, as well as help motivate engineering as more fun and fulfilling as a career path.

Thanks for reading.


Diane said...

Today we live in a society that views items as being disposable with clothing being inexpensive because of offshore labor. Back in the 40's and 50's there were shortages during the war and society had to "make do". This is a different thought process requiring engineering to redesign rather than toss out. A visit to any thrift store attests to this fact. There are a few deconstructionists and refashionistas today but the majority of the public see no use of the cloth beyond it's original intention. Yes, these are skills that are not being handed down to young girls because we are not grooming our daughters to be homemakers or "domestic engineers".

Shirley Willett said...

Diane: I was puzzled by your comment, at least in relation to the particular post of mine that you posted it to. You are right about many people in the 40's or 50's, but I was totally different. As a teenager in the 40's, I was never "dometic" (sewing is not engineering), my mother didn't sew, I learned for myself and went out to the factories to stitch in production. I created my own patterns as a teenager. Even that I do not call engineering. It was not until I put together my pattern designing with my knowledge of production stitching that I did the work of, and became known as a "pattern engineer". A definition of "engineering" is "ORGANIZING & MAKING PROCESSES WORK BETTER". When I say ENGINNEERNG DESIGN, I mean CREATING & DESIGNING those processes as well as enginneering them. pattern makING is a process.

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