Ever wondered how a space shuttle works? What makes an electric car like the Tesla run? What goes into the smartphone you have in your pocket? This is at the heart of engineering — solving problems big and small. It is their love for science and engineering that has inspired the team to conceptualise and lead their design workshops— to share more about engineering and its impact for the world.
For Roger Ong (Graduate, Information Systems Technology and Design (ISTD)) and Shaun Lim (Graduate, Engineering Product Development (EPD)), the design workshops are a great way to share their love and passion for engineering with their peers and juniors. The workshops are especially relevant and intriguing for those who have not chosen their academic paths yet and are considering going into STEM. It is an exciting field, full of opportunities, with many paths and industries ahead of the enterprising engineer. The design workshops are an initiative that brings engineering to the forefront for many youths and students.
“How do you make education interesting? This is what motivated me to launch these design workshops.” – Yuan Kang
For Yuan Kang (Graduate, Engineering Product Development (EPD)), the design workshops are about problems and solving them in creative, innovative ways. Participants are presented with scenarios and obstacles. Armed with huge maps, little electronic kits and other resources, the participants have to design and put together their own robot to conquer the obstacles and complete the quests.
Design is not about crafting the perfect robot or solution. It is about experimenting with new approaches, learning and rapidly adapting one’s solution to solve the problem effectively— rapid prototyping. This is an important and fundamental aspect of design, which carries across all disciplines and most certainly, beyond the design world itself. The team is clear that this is one of their key goals and takeaways for the participants.
As the organisers of the workshops, they have to strike a good balance, while crafting out the scenarios for the participants. It has be challenging and interesting, so that the participants are inspired to experiment and try new things. At the same time, it has to be open-minded enough, so that there are many creative solutions that can effectively solve the problem. In fact, Roger and Shaun shared that they were blown away by some of the solutions proposed by the participants— creative solutions that they had not thought of. This is the mark of a workshop that is well-designed! (forgive the pun!)
“We wanted people to try ideas quickly. If it doesn’t work, take it apart, reassemble and bam. You have your new idea.” – Yuan Kang
The team seeks to break common stereotypes and misconceptions about engineering. They shared that “when people think about engineers, they think about old men in long-sleeved shirts and brown pants. In fact, when we went for an engineering conference once, that’s what we saw. You immediately know who the engineers are in the room!” Ultimately, they seek to inspire and share a clear message: Anyone who is interested about solving problems can be an engineer.
It’s clearly making a difference. Many of the participants gave feedback that they loved the workshops and are keen to come to SUTD. One student even shared that he would like to join SUTD and eventually organise these workshops for his junior batches in the future. This is truly the mark of a meaningful project for the team.