Inventors' Workshop is the transformative initiative to train the engineer of 2020 and 2100 today. We advance the NAE's Grand Challenges and realize the mission of the New American University. This interdisciplinary program aims to unite all disciplines to advance the foundations of education.
Building the capacity for transdisciplinary expertise requires STEM learners to develop:
- Deeper levels of expertise, e.g., skills to not only practice but to also translate one’s knowledge and apply it beyond its traditional settings, sharing and making contributions within and across multiple domains
- The opportunity to develop a broad array of vocabulary, experience, and understanding.
Thus, we need more effective and efficient paths to deeper knowledge and to make higher end tools easier to access and use, so learners can gain deep expertise in one or more disciplines and come-up-to-speed quickly in a broad range of diverse topics, enabling new and rich conversations, projects, teams, and discoveries, beyond what is possible today.
Universities have the responsibility to impart sticky knowledge to learners. Toolkits are part of the solution, as are mentor networks, and problem-based learning and learning by doing. Inventors Workshop modules integrate toolkits with mentor communities and hands on project-based learning opportunities. Modules are meta-media-units (media units include any existing media: books; research papers; videos; serious-games and simulators; Kahn Academy lessons; MIT Open Courseware and iTunes University courses; etc.) that curate existing content to provide a high-quality, comprehensive, activity-based, learning experience. Modules couple these media units with a rich array of open-access, hands-on activities that are engaged in individually, in teams, with peers, clubs, research groups, industry collaborators, alumni, and mentored by experts/ambassadors that facilitate access to high-end research experiences and instruments. Collectively these can provide the disciplinary and transdisciplinary experiences that produce T-shaped STEM Leaders, e.g., individuals with broad transdisciplinary knowledge (horizontally across domains) coupled with deep expertise (vertically within one or more domains).
Inventors Workshops and their modules realize an environment in which intrinsic motivation, domain area expertise, and thinking styles are leveraged with actualizing rewards to foster creativity and flow (optimal learning) experiences. In Minds On Fire: Passion Based Learning, John Sealy Brown, discusses the constructionist and passion based learning philosophies and emerging practices made possible through DIY communities and distributed online cyberlearning resources. Inventors Workshops will allow universities to capitalize on these trends to realize transformative change through increasingly integrated research and education. The highest-end research tools will be made broadly accessible through Inventors-in-Residence, ambassador-mentors, and integrated research/education modules and seminars.
Inventors Workshops will give the next generation of STEM learners and leaders the support and opportunity they need to engage in intrinsically motivated engineering and lifelong learning, while turning their invention concepts into reality. These institutions will advance discovery, innovation and education beyond the current standard of knowledge, and empower future generations in STEM. The Inventors Workshop will provide next-generation shop environments with networked access to the highest-end tools across the university, allowing innovative, potentially transformative complex research and education projects.