Y. T. Li

  • Education in Creative Engineering

    Y. T. Li

    This report documents a symposium held at M.I.T. in 1969. The symposium was a unique experimental program designed to provide a creative engineering environment for the students, faculty, and working engineers from the aerospace industry it brought together. This coordinated program emphasized the development of creativity in engineering innovation, design, and management.

    Dr. Y. T. Li is professor of aeronautics and Astronautics at M.I.T. In his introduction to the book he writes that “Creativity... often requires the ability of handling unique situations under environmental conditions of infinite variations. Each case is nonrecurring and therefore difficult to be set into a model for exercise, and no quantitative evaluation of one's achievement is readily known. Thus the motivation required is much more subtle than the instant incentive of a good mark.”

    The book, like the program itself, consists of two parts, one reflecting the workshop activities, the other presenting the papers delivered at the symposium proper:

    “The two-pronged approach of this program involving a workshop and a symposium is designed collectively to give the impact needed for this kind of experiment. Individually the workshop is intended to expose the student to the open- ended industrial type of problem. The teamwork, brainstorming sessions, industrial consultation, prize awarding are all devised to give the students a realistic industrial fact of life, and thereby to develop their creative motivation, confidence, and inspiration, plus some salesmanship....

    “The second prong of the program, the symposium, is designed to give the program the focus and the drawing power while providing the students with some of the latest information organized and discussed in such a manner to emphasize the commonality of the physical concepts, the importance of interdisciplinary awareness, and the ability to recognize pertinent parameters.”

    The symposium papers, collected in Part I of the book, outline creative approaches to a broad array of aerospace challenges and cover current practices and recent innovations in a coordinated way to highlight the commonality of approach. Among the topics treated are heat transfer, heat pipe applications, aircraft engine noise, flow measurements, the computing of geometric airplane aerodynamic characteristics, flutter suspension systems, flutter-induced oscillation, achieving helicopter stability, rigor rotor hub design, maneuver load relief, design problems in the Apollo program, the measurement of height and distance, and the Apollo Lunar Module. A paper on thinking processes and a critique of this educational experiment are also included.

    Part II describes the workshop program. It presents the statement of the problem put to the students and some of the best of their solutions.

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