Creativity as a design engine in Engineering

Engineering is strongly linked to calculus and analytical logical thinking. However, creativity is also an important component that is rarely taken into account. Other skills are further strengthened and this one is put aside. But it is at the moment in which you want to start applying the knowledge you have acquired and solving problems that you notice a lack of imagination. But this is not a mistake merely of the engineering student, but also of those who guide him in his career. For this reason, at USIL we encourage the development of different soft skills along with the technical knowledge necessary for each Engineering.

It is in this scenario that the challenge of manufacturing a Rube Goldberg machine is introduced to apply to engineers, but forcing the participants to use their creativity at all times. This is a machine that, by definition, allows the user to perform a simple action in the most complex way possible. For this, a large number of steps have been established that start one after the other in a chain reaction and that, eventually, will achieve the objective set at the beginning. A clear example of this concept would be that of a marble that hits a chain of dominoes so that these at the end hit a book and, this, lights a lamp. Why turn on a lamp with our hands in seconds when we could spend all day creating a machine to do it in minutes?

For the aforementioned, it could be interpreted that manufacturing this type of machine goes against everything that engineering seeks: efficiency. However, it is the process of creating such a machine that encourages the use of creativity in conjunction with physics concepts. Thinking how to make the steps happen one after another in sync and the expected action to be executed. Calculate the impact between the pieces so that they advance only what is needed. Apply physical concepts at all times, but in a way that is intrinsic to creativity. An invitation is made to experiment more than just calculate. Get expected and unexpected results after trial and error. Being all this experience one of the activities that we usually forget when finishing an engineering degree: experimenting and testing our ideas.

In September of this year, the USIL Faculty of Engineering held the first version of the event “Build your Rube Goldberg machine”. On this occasion, the challenge was aimed at students from the last years of school, who could perceive from the beginning that engineering is also creative and that not only mathematics is needed to solve a problem. However, this is only the first version of many more competitions that will not only be for schoolchildren but also students from our house of studies. In this way, we began to convey the message that “engineering challenges are very great and require rigorous calculations, but this does not mean that creativity should be considered as an alien element in the engineering design process . “