Design Thinking and Related Opportunities for Systems-Level Research in Engineering Education
Computer science educator
Denver School of Science and Technology
Monday, February 15, 2016
Santan (SANTN) 220, Polytechnic campus [map]
The need for more engineers equipped with new skill sets is essential for ensuring our national security, climate sustainability, and maintaining our position as a global leader in innovation and as an economic world power. The design challenges engineers face increasingly require a human-centered, creative, practical, and systems-based approach to find the most elegant solutions; i.e. they require design thinkers. Recognized attributes of design thinkers include: empathy—they imagine the world from multiple perspectives, integrative thinking—they can analyze at a detailed and holistic level to develop novel solutions, optimism—they don’t back down from challenging problems, experimentalism—they ask questions and take new approaches to problem solving, and collaboration—they work with many different disciplines and often have experience in more than just one field. In this talk, Dr. Blizzard will discuss how her research has built on these ideas by developing and testing measures of design thinking, characterizing design thinkers (e.g. what are their demographics, career goals, interests), and comparing design thinkers with non-design thinkers. Her study developed nine metrics of design thinking that were administered as part of a nationally representative Sustainability and Gender in Engineering (SaGE) survey. Design thinkers were characterized and compared with non design thinkers using basic statistics, Mann-Whitney U tests, chi-square tests, and multiple linear regression modeling. The study found that design thinkers are a diverse group of high achieving students that see their career as an opportunity to positively impact the world. Design thinkers are concerned and interested in tackling the economic, environmental, and social sustainability challenges our society is facing. And they believe that engineers play an important and altruistic role in the world by saving lives, protecting the environment, and addressing societal concerns.In addition to previous research, Dr. Blizzard will discuss how her work experience at Google and in K-12 education have informed her interests in future research in engineering education. Her research and experience working in the field of education have illuminated valuable leverage points for broadening participation in engineering and creating a more resilient and innovative engineering workforce. Dr. Blizzard will explain how she sees ASU as uniquely positioned to address some of these leverage points including pedagogical strategies and organizational practices that lead to increased design thinking traits and diversity in engineering across multiple levels of education.
Blizzard earned a PhD in Civil Engineering with a Graduate Certificate in STEM Education as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina. Since graduating, Dr. Blizzard has worked in education, starting at Google as part of the Computer Science (CS) First team and now with the Denver School of Science & Technology charter school network as a Computer Science Educator. As a member of Google’s CS First Team, Dr. Blizzard helped lead Google’s efforts to design and launch an innovative K-12 after-school program designed to provide all students an opportunity to learn to code. Her engineering education research has focused on developing an interdisciplinary framework for sustainable whole systems design and using metrics to understand factors (including interest in design thinking and sustainability), that may influence women as well as minorities to pursue STEM degrees. At Arizona State University, Dr. Blizzard is particularly excited about opportunities to collaborate across departments and with the ASU Preparatory Academy to study pedagogy and instructor development that improves students design thinking skills and mindsets across multiple education levels. Ultimately, through her scholarship Dr. Blizzard’s strives to implement innovative STEM curriculum across multiple education levels to promote diversity and engage students in tackling