ASEE NCS Conference 2019

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A Hands-on Workshop in the New Missing Basics of Engineering Education

During the early phases of the collaboration between UIUC and Olin College in the iFoundry initiative (Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education), the collaborative team quickly learned about the importance of unleashing experiences, the kind of explosive student initiative that comes from trust, experimentation, failure, and success. Some of those unleashing stories were told in the full-length book, A Whole New Engineer (Goldberg & Somerville, 2014). Since the early phases of iFoundry (Goldberg et al. 200), work has continued to more fully understand the kinds of changes necessary to engineering education to call forward whole new engineers.

This workshop starts from the rhetorical device of "the missing basics" (Goldberg, 2010) In the early days colleagues of iFoundry at UIUC would challenge almost all suggested innovations in the content, curriculum, and pedagogy of undergrad education by saying, "That's nice Dave, but won't it dilute the basics?" by which they meant math, science, and engineering science. The missing basics put forward a list of 7 critical and creative thinking skills that were posited as lacking in UIUC engineering grads of the time, suggesting that there is room to think differently. That list has stood the test of time, but practical work with engineering reformers and transformers around the world since 2010 has led to an expansion of the concept, the so-called "new missing basics," or sometimes "the deep missing basics."

This highly interactive and experiential workshop is a shortened version of ThreeJoy's global offering in teaching key "shift skills." We use the term shift skills instead of the more common term "soft skills" to get away from the implied denigration of the term "soft" and to suggest that small shifts in common day-to-day practices of being can lead to great power as a practitioner.

The workshop engages the participants in an enlightening noticing exercise, a level-one vs. level two listening contrast exercise, and the experience of an inspiring visualization tool called a polarity map. The workshop is conducted in pairs and small groups and participants are called upon to act, converse, and reflect throughout.

Students and faculty alike can take these shift skills back to the classroom and to their lives in ways that can be remarkably simple yet impactful.


Goldberg, D. E. (2010). The Missing Basics and Other Philosophical Reflections for the Transformation of Engineering Education. In Grasso, D. & M. B. Burkins (eds.). Holistic engineering education (pp. 145-158). New York: Springer.

Goldberg, D. E., A. C. Cangellaris, M. C. Loui, R. L. Price, and B. J. Litchfield (2008). iFoundry: Engineering Curriculum Reform Without Tears. Proceedings of 2008 ASEE National Conference and Exposition.

Goldberg, D. E. & Somerville, M. (2014). A Whole New Engineering: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education. Douglas, MI: ThreeJoy.

Korte, R. and D. E. Goldberg (2010). Students as the Key to Unleashing Student Engagement: The Theory, & Launch of a Scalable, Student-Run Learning Community at Illinois. Proceedings of 2010 ASEE National Conference and Exposition.

David E. Goldberg
ThreeJoy Associates & UIUC
United States


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