Jean Le Mée Cooper Union Design Projects
The Gateway Engineering Education Coalition
A Ten-year Project Supported by the National Science Foundation
The Gateway Engineering Education Coalition was a collaborative program of seven institutions supported by the Engineering Directorate of the National Science Foundation. Headquartered at Drexel University and representing a diversity of institutional cultures, the Coalition opened new "gateways" for learning by shifting the focus from "teaching" to "learning," from the theoretical to the experiential and from a piecewise to an integrated approach to the engineering curriculum while maintaining the traditional rigorous treatment of the subject matter.
The emphasis was on bringing engineering "up-front," and using design as the thread weaving together the supportive analytical and experiential knowledge. This integrative process was facilitated to a large extent through multidisciplinary projects and the use of instructional technologies in cross-institutional programs. This led to a lowering of traditional barriers among as well as within institutions.
Gateway Engineering Education Coalition Schools:
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Ohio State University
University of South Carolina
Jean Le Mée was the project director of the Gateway Coalition at Cooper Union for its ten-year duration and a governing board member of the Gateway Coalition.
The Story of Gateway (Downloadable book telling the complete story)
The Story of Gateway summarizes the Cooper Union's participation in the Gateway Coalition during its first 8 years, details Cooper Union's most outstanding achievements as Coalition Partners, and outlines how Cooper Union is positioned to carry the standard forward in the coming years.
View Book as pdf
New Pedagogies/Distance Learning/Web/Virtual Teams
1. Freshman Engineering Design II-Reverse Engineering-Overview Website
The course EID-103 - Principles of Design, aimed at freshman engineering students, is an elective which combines reverse engineering with the creation of a simple device. In reverse engineering an object - such as a floppy disk drive, a toy robotic arm, or a computer mouse, for instance - is dissected, and the components as well as the assembly are analyzed, sketched, and discussed. Students working in teams discuss the rationale for selected materials, components operations, dimensions, manufacturing, repair, replacement, modification, patents, economics of production, marketing and recycling. Students keep a journal, report their findings orally and in writing, and prepare a short video demonstration. After that experience lasting 5 weeks, students spend the next 10 weeks designing a product. The product must be embodied in a prototype of 10 pieces or less and the presentation must include a patent search and a marketing plan.
2. Guided Design as applied to Engineering Problem Solving
The purpose of this course is to introduce the student to the practice of engineering right from the start of their educational experience. In engineering, the purely technical component is but a fraction of the whole that includes working in teams, addressing questions with legal and economic dimensions as well as social and human aspects.
Engineering in Context/Interaction with the Arts
1. The Robotic Renaissance Project-Overview Website
In EID111: Design, Illusion and Reality: Robotics and Theater students from the Art, Architecture and Engineering Schools worked in interdisciplinary teams to develop projects revolving around robotics and theater. Each team developed a dramatic scenario which could be acted out by robots. Instructors put forward materials on the history of robots in film and theater, from Karel Capek's R.U.R. to Star Wars. Projects included plays, performable works and robotic inventions and culminated in a telerobotic exhibition at The Whitney Museum of American Art in the Spring 2001, where a robot roamed the museum and was controlled by viewers over the web who were in communication with physical visitors.
2. Multi-Year, Multi-University Project-Overview Website
MYMUP, which stands for "Multi-Year Multi-University Project, is an interdisciplinary, inter-university project which encourages students from diverse backgrounds to find creative yet pragmatic solutions to current, real-life design projects.
Group projects explored in EID 111-Design, Illusion and Reality emphasize the interplay among ideas, concepts and values on one hand and the appearance of the design on the other. The projects aim at being vivid demonstrations of how design brings illusion and reality together; how illusion, however conceived, shapes reality, however experienced; and how that reality in turn contributes to reshaping the illusion in a constant interplay - design becoming the stimulator, the moderator, the revealer, the resolver, the means to an end.
A. Smart Street Concept
The Smart Street Kiosk was designed by collaboration between three Gateway Schools (Cooper Union, Polytechnic University and Florida International University). Students worked together to form a proposal to produce a system for pedestrians to access public facilities, information, and other common needs in a compact, accessible and efficient way. The basis of the project is the placement of Smart Street structures at key locations, such as Rockefeller Center and The World Trade Center, throughout New York City. These structures encompass all of the pedestrians' needs within a compact area, making the streets more convenient and less cluttered. While the citizens benefit, the city will too in that it will make a profit from these structures with no initial investment by the government. All money necessary to erect such structures will be supplied by investors who also stand to make a large profit. The concept of a Smart Street is revolutionary and promises to change the way in which pedestrians view the streets.
There is much that we can do in our work as engineers, artists and architects to restore the necessary constructive connection between humankind and nature. In a future of links and nodes generated by ones and zeros, it is the link, the transition between a given "here" and "there," which will deeply affect any such constructive connection.
A small but vital step is to see the design process as a collaborative one between many branches of human activity as a whole and not as a matter of watertight compartments arbitrarily contrived with a bare minimum of communicative intelligence bridging them.
By taking a variety of particular examples of pre-existing bridges that are products of engineering, art and architecture, students will glimpse how the design processes are initiated and how the subsequent available options are resolved. The emphasis will be on synthesis, rather than analysis, of the approach to problem solving. Students will conduct and document the design process of a site-specific bridge; that site will be actual or conceptual.
C. Governor's Island
When the US Coast Guard abandoned its station at Governor's Island, President Clinton offered to sell it to the City for $1.00. Though the City did not take him up on it at the time, we offered the challenge to our students and asked them to propose some uses for this historical site.
Here are some of the imaginative solutions offered by the interdisciplinary groups of engineering, architecture, and art students
D. Intersection of the Future
The Intersection of the Future was the topic for a MYMUP class at Cooper Union in 1996. The class focused on ideas to better the intersection at Liberty Street and West Street in New York City's lower Manhattan.
3. The Engineering of Nature/Constructals-Overview Website
Understanding how nature is engineered can help to determine how a shape occurs and how a structure develops. It can also stimulate the imagination of would-be-designers and teach them observation, adaptation, ingenuity, simplicity, and other qualities that make for a good designer. "The Engineering of Nature, Constructals" is a project based class implemented at the Cooper Union where students strive to develop innovative and efficient construction methods simulating natural processes. This website provides access to a description of the course, the course bibliography and student projects.
The Globetech Simulation Project at the
The Global Technology Management Simulation, GlobeTech, is an original Curriculum Innovation and Development project which has been developed and conducted yearly for seven years at The Cooper Union under the auspices of the Gateway Engineering Education Coalition. Its main purpose is to familiarize the undergraduate engineering students with the application of global technology management and negotiation principles by using an International Joint-Venture Project Internet Negotiation Simulation as the main learning tool.