Going back to school (as a TA)

Yesterday, I went to McMaster University to join Design Innovation class of the Engineering Design program as a volunteer TA.  As I wrote in a previous post, I was a TA in Design Thinking course last year.  Like Design Thinking course, Design Innovation is a biweekly Saturday course, and since I bought a car, now I go back to school to help teaching.  I like teaching, and it’s worth driving two hours.  Actually I joined the class from the beginning of this term, but I skipped two classes in a raw because I was asked to work on Saturday with Japanese workaholics.  It’s good to “take a day off” on Saturday.

Those two courses are led by a mechanical engineering professor and an industrial design professor.  To make a long story short, I understand that the aim of those courses is to make engineers designers.  Since I have both engineering and design backgrounds, let me assume I am a perfect match.  At the beginning of Design Thinking course, most of the students are pure engineers; once they came up with an idea, they stuck to it and tried to make it better without thinking of alternatives.  Now I can tell they are becoming familiar with design approach where they explore design ideas to find better solutions.  But changing habits is not easy.  When they try to generate different ideas, some of them seem to focus on technologies and often forget design implications such as human factors.  When I asked “what are design challenges in your project?” some of them could not answer.  But if they truly understand design approach and use their engineering expertise, I’m sure they can be “strong” engineering designers.

I like teaching, and now I want to be a good teacher; I want to show my design approach as a professional product designer.  But I still don’t know when it happens.  My journey will go on.

February 24, 2013Permalink