Creative Problem Solving

Making prosthetic hands, visiting bioengineering labs and having guest speakers from all over the world; these are just a few highlights of the Creative Problem Solving class with Ms. Lavakumar. I was invited to the class this Tuesday to hear from engineers at Boston Scientific and to get a better understanding of what the class offers. There are no tests, no exams and the class gets to chose what topics they’re interested in exploring.

I sat in the class on Tuesday to hear two representatives from Boston Scientific talk about how science and math are used to develop medical equipment. Laurie Soderbom and Carly Siegel work on endoscopy technology and brought devices with them to let the class try them out. Ms. Lavakumar admits during the presentation “most people in the class thought that engineering had to do with train conductors in the first week of class.” The class responded with laughter and continued to figure out the functions of the endoscopy devices.

What I had imagined about the Intro to Engineering course was dense, facts- heavy discussions, but what I saw were students learning and enjoying science in a stress-free environment. Passing around tubes, bands and clamps, we pretended to insert a staple into a patient’s esophagus or picture how these instruments were tested in lab. The whole experience felt a bit childish as we played with the devices, but it was one of classes I learned the most from that day in the shortest amount of time.

One of presenters, Carly Siegel and Laurie Soderbom,  explained the environment they grew up in and the interests that drove them to become engineers. A passion for math led to Siegel’s involvement for statistical analysis, which involves reading reports and understanding how to improve the products. Laurie Soderbom, growing up with an interest in trains and puzzles and an aptitude for science in high school, explained influenced her career in biomedical engineering. Both Siegel and Soderbom work in the labs at Boston Scientific developing and testing life-saving medical devices. Not only did I learn what a biomedical engineer is, but also how meaningful this career path is.

They also offered advice about our future careers. Siegel explained, “Connections are very important,” as she told us about the internships and work opportunities that came from networking. Both presenters emphasized how important internships are especially in college and how they can lead you in a certain direction in you career. Even a non-science inclined student, I was able to collect many important lessons from this presentation. I found that Creative Problem Solving not only builds experience in engineering, but also in business and shaping a career.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to discuss with Ms. Lavakumar the structure of the class and the idea behind it and she explained “I have been exposing them to Engineering through TED talks, field trips, projects and guest speakers. The class is not about formulas and math, but to learn more about the field of engineering.” One example of the projects the class just completed was a competition to build a prosthetic hand. Students were split into two teams and challenged to create the most functional hand. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the next challenge is to produce makeup using a household HP printer.

On Tuesday, after making study guides and prepping for exams that entire day, I wondered, “how much of this am I really going to remember in 10 years? “ Odds are that I will forget much of the information I will cram into my head for exams at the end of this week. I do anticipate remembering the time I got to play with endoscopy equipment and pretend that I was stapling a cut on the inside of patient’s esophagus. In short, this one class changed the way I think about engineering, creative solutions and careers in general in 45-minute block. Creative Problem Solving is one of the most underrated classes at Dana and I encourage everyone, even if you dislike science, to give this class a try.



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