My main goal is to educate engineers. Most important in that is to stimulate creative thinking, for which design education is critical. Design education is fundamentally different from the standard learning by instruction, even if the latter includes new approaches, such as the flipped classroom. Design education involves synthesis, implementation, and monitoring of performance – in addition to analysis, which is the classical part of scientific and technical education. While synthesis, i.e., “putting things together” and observing “how it looks or works” is fully incorporated in education for arts and literature, as well as in architecture, it played a much lesser role in engineering. Following design education in mechanical engineering, where it was implemented decades ago, design education is now also possible in civil engineering, albeit more difficult, given that implementation of real size projects is often impossible. IT-based tools, i.e., simulation, help to some extent, but must not replace learning by doing with “real things” (not reduced size models). In my own teaching, the best example is that of the capstone project in civil and environmental engineering, in which the students not only designed “on paper” new buildings at MIT, but also designed, built, and observed the performance of a real footbridge.
Herbert H. Einstein
- Outstanding educator award – In recognition of exceptional service and dedication to the United States underground Construction Industry, from the Underground Constructions Association of the Society of Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, 2014
- Samuel S. Seegal prize for faculty member in business of Civil Engineering who, more than any other, inspired students in pursuing excellence, MIT School of Engineering, 2013
- Award for outstanding service to the department and particularly to the undergraduate program, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, 2001
- Outstanding teacher award, MIT Graduate Council, 1999
- Bose teaching award, MIT School of Engineering, 1999
- Effective teaching award, MIT Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering