A Module to Foster Engineering Creativity: an Interpolative Design Problem and an Extrapolative Research Project


  • Neil S. Forbes University of Massachusetts


This article describes a teaching module designed to enhance engineering creativity in an introductory chemical engineering course. The module includes an exercise to design column packing material, and an open-ended research project to describe the societal impact of chemical engineering. These assignments were created to illustrate the benefit of generating many ideas independent of analysis. The results of two years of survey-based assessment showed that these techniques improved students’ confidence and ability with creative problems.

Author Biography

Neil S. Forbes, University of Massachusetts

Neil Forbes is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He has an adjunct appointment in the Molecular and Cell Biology Program and at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Califomia, Berkeley, and was a postdoctoral fellow in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School. His education interests are in introductory engineering education and the integration of life-science material into the chemical engineering curriculum. His research interests include drug delivery, tumor biology, and bacterial anti-cancer therapies.