ETSII-Universidad Nacional de Educacion a Distancia (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2016 Proceedings
Publication year: 2016
Pages: 7577-7581
ISBN: 978-84-617-5895-1
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2016.0727
Conference name: 9th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 14-16 November, 2016
Location: Seville, Spain
Creativity is required for all engineering activities. All engineering tasks, such as engineering design requires creative approaches, as it helps engineers to easily find solutions innovative and complex to technical problems. Industry remarks the need the importance of creativity for engineers as it gives them more innovative. Since last decades, engineering education paid little attention to the importance of creativity, focusing mainly on analytical subjects, in education programs closer to have scientific than engineers who has to be involved on ideation as well as problem solving tasks.

Fortunately, creativity is currently better valued by engineering community as well as by educational environment. Researchers studied how to include creativity in engineering education. From all of approaches reviewed, we identified two strategies: one is by teaching creativity courses and second is fostering it by practice. Since each one has advantages also has some issues to be taken into account. For teaching creativity courses, main issue is the impact on engineering programs lective hours and new subjects to be included in curricula. For the approach of enhancing creativity by practice, main issue is how to change teaching and learning habits, which may be even harder to achieve than in the first case.

Other interesting approach to foster creativity in engineering education is focusing on Visual Literacy. Visual thinking and spatial reasoning is agreed of much importance for engineers as it allows solving technical problems and ideate visually. Since there were efforts to include creative themes on engineering curricula, in most of the cases, visual thinking is not adequately taken into account. One case is Engineering Graphics subjects, which suffered a decline and even disappeared in engineering curricula. Other is sketching practice, of most importance for engineering design and a creative tool, almost displaced by CAD. It is important to show that Graphic subjects, far from just engineering design representation means, helps future engineers for problem solving tasks and idea development. Our suggestion is that an easy and effective strategy for fostering creativity in engineering education will be by paying more attention to Graphic subjects as well as related activities to Visual Thinking and Spatial Reasoning, teaching students how to draw, how to think visually, to be able to mentally represent shapes, to ideate new ones and to express them by graphic tools, such as mind maps or sketches.

In this paper we will discuss how to apply Visual Literacy as an easy and effective approach for enhancing creativity in engineering education. First, we will briefly survey the state of visual literacy in engineering education. Benefits on Visual thinking, spatial reasoning and graphic tools for engineering shall be shown. We will also review case studies showing the use of graphic tools for creative problem solving. As well as some cases of engineering faculties including graphic and drawing subjects according to creativity. According to this study, we will finally propose some guidelines to apply this strategy in educational programs.
Creativity, Engineering Education, Visual Literacy, Engineering Graphics.