Cornerstone Courses

Cornerstone courses teach students how to solve complex, open-ended problems using critical thinking and workplace skills.

Students work in multidisciplinary teams to learn through doing, with emphasis on defining and diagnosing the problem through a holistic lens of technology, people, and environment. Students follow a user-centered design methodology throughout the process, seeking to deeply understand a problem from multiple perspectives and accept its ambiguities before attempting to solve it. Whenever possible, instruction in these subjects is “hands-on” and experimental, with the instructor serving as both mentor and lecturer.

Cornerstone Outcomes

Intro to Design is a required 3-credit, one-semester course, in which students work in teams on a semester-long project that is different every semester. Students in EDNS151 learn to communicate technical ideas and solutions graphically, orally, written, and through prototype demonstrations. Cornerstone offers a variety of 3-credit second year “Practice of Design” courses, which build on the 151 foundation while also requiring student teams to manage a client relationship and use commercial software to model, predict, and analyze. Students must check with their major department to determine which second year design course is required or permissible.

Design Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to demonstrate the ability to:

  1. Identify, breakdown, and define open-ended problems.
  2. Research the context and background of problems and solutions, including user needs and technical requirements, through scholarly and authoritative sources, and stakeholder input.
  3. Design solutions through a cycle of testing, refining, iterating, and feedback.
  4. Equitably contribute to team efforts from start to end on a collaborative project, and participate in learning activities and coaching activities in the team.
  5. Apply common workplace practices, tools and software in a semester-long team project, including project planning tools, team management tools, tools to generate solution alternatives,  decision analysis methods, risk analysis methods, and value proposition analysis/baseline comparison.
  6. Present technical ideas and solutions graphically, orally, written, and through prototype demonstrations.

Intro to Design Additional Outcomes:

7. Visually depict ideas to teammates, supervisors, and stakeholders through the use of field sketching for the purposes of communication as well as idea development and development through iteration.

8. Model and communicate formalized design ideas through the use of standardized engineering graphics conventions as applied to engineering sketching and computer-aided design/solid modeling software

Practice of Design Additional Outcomes:

7.  Manage a client relationship, including communicating, soliciting and incorporating input, and delivering a solution that meets client requirements and constraints.

8.  Use commercial software to create user interfaces or to collect data for accurate analyses as well as to make reasonable decisions and/or predictive models.