Faculty ShowCASE: Sunniva Collins on the Spectrum of Thinking
In engineering, turning an abstract idea into a tangible benefit for the public requires the efforts of many talented teams across several disciplines. From the big-thinking philosophers who first dream of the idea to the scientists who make it a mathematical reality, every step of the process has a defined and equally important purpose.
Sunniva Collins, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Case School of Engineering, explains how the online engineering master’s programs from Case Western Reserve University are preparing professionals to be part of this important process through curiosity, critical thinking and engagement with others.
I've always been a person who really likes to solve problems. And one of the mottos here at Case is think outside the box. And so because of that, we do look for curiosity. We want people to be curious. And so we encourage that in our students. And we would like them to basically ask questions and look at things a different way because we learn so much from someone with a different perspective.
I always start my classes by telling my students that there's a whole spectrum of thinking, everything from the philosopher who thinks or basically comes up with the big idea. Then there's the scientist who reduces it to some mathematical reality. Then the next person in line is the engineer who has to take that mathematical reality and turn it into something physical. It's a really interesting place to be. Then the next person down the line would be the technical person or the end user of the technology. And then, finally again, the customer, the person who's actually benefiting from it. And the level of understanding that you need to be at that interface between scientists and engineer is what we really try and develop. So I think that that shows up in pretty much all of our pedagogy here and how we go forward.
There’s more: See how perspective and curiosity led these Case Western Reserve students and alumni to accomplish great things.