PART 2: Stanfill has four-plank innovation strategy for Tickle College

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the final article in a two-part series describing the innovation and creative initiative that Keith Stanfill is leading in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.)

By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA

Keith Stanfill, the inaugural Edwards Assistant Dean and Director of Integrated Engineering Design in the Tickle College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville has developed a four-plank strategy for achieving the innovation goals he has for the college and its students.

“First, I want to increase the number of interdisciplinary design activities for undergraduates in the College,” he says. That goal involves both vertically, meaning from freshmen through seniors, and horizontally, across departments within the college as well as with other colleges. The latter is what he describes as “my primary mission,” while the former is “something I haven’t cracked yet.”

Both will expose students to new opportunities, new thinking and enhanced learning. They are wrapped together in something called the “Integrated Engineering Design Program” (IEDP). As described on the webpage, “Horizontal interactions will allow students across the University of Tennessee to collaborate in interdisciplinary courses on authentic design challenges. Vertical interactions will provide opportunities for seniors to freshman within their own discipline to work together on real-world design problems.”

Similar to a program Stanfill ran in Florida, the IEDP benefits both the participating students and the sponsoring companies.

“Companies get an eight- to nine-month interview with the students and a result at the end of the project for a reasonable cost,” he says. “They also have access to faculty and a way to give back knowledge to the students. And, the companies get access to resources that don’t have the benefit of experience to cloud their judgement.”

The program will launch this coming academic year, and Stanfill hopes to sign-up eight initial sponsors. Those joining for 2019-20 will get a 25 percent discount on the normal $20,000 cost for a project.

His second major goal is to collect and disseminate best practices within the college. “Every major has a senior design course,” Stanfill says. “Can we share curriculum across the college?”

Goal three was represented by the expansion this year of the college-wide “Senior Design Showcase” that tripled from 43 teams to 130 as it was also broadened to include all departments within the college.

The fourth goal comes with the completion of the new $129 million engineering complex currently in 2021. That will allow for a significant expansion of the cramped facilities in Perkins Hall into a much larger Innovation and Collaboration Studio.

“Georgia Tech has been a real leader in this area,” Stanfill says of the Atlanta institution’s Invention Studio. “The way they have engaged student resources was really genius. We’re experimenting with that model and have about 20 students working part-time.”

How does the Tickle College’s makerspace rank on a 2017 classification system developed for the 2017 American Society for Engineering Education had five categories? Stanfill has judged the Tickle College’s to be as follows:

  • Scope (number of university missions supported) – He ranks the Tickle College’s facility in the middle of three ranges with the highest supporting three university missions. In this case, it supports one mission.
  • Accessibility for all – Stanfill ranks the Tickle facility at the top of four categories, providing access to the entire university.
  • Number of users – He ranks it in the second of four categories, supporting 100 to 1,000 members. The highest supports more than 3,000 users.
  • Footprint or size – Tickle’s in again in the second of four ranges at 1,000 to 5,000 square feet. Toping this category are markerspaces in excess of 20,000 square feet.
  • Management and staffing – Stanfill says Tickle is at the top of three options, having faculty and professional management along with students.

There is clearly opportunity for growth in support of students once the new building opens.

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