13 October 2006

design thoughts

so i was thinking about this some more while i was waiting for jacqueline today. why is it that i bristle against having design competitions like 2.007. and i think the answer is that with a point scoring system, there is an implied "right way" -> the winner. there is only one winner. and with students' robots, there's a lot left to chance, so even some really good designs get kicked out early occasionally. the disappointment of not doing well in the competition can sometimes overshadow any good thoughts you have about what you've learned. this is in addition to the competition overshadowing the design process to begin with. so, really, i don't think that competition is the best way begin to design.

i was also thinking more about gender. particularly, that the people who do well (i.e. score lots of points) in 2.007 tend to be men. i can't think of a worman ever winning, but i might be wrong about this. why is this? the first thing i can think of is that women are less likely to have prior experience with making/fixing things from childhood on. this makes them less likely to dive in confidently and start making things. every mistake seems like the worst failure ever. when really, there's just a lot of back experience that needs to be built up. i guess i've noticed (being a woman engineer) that the most discrimination happens in the machine shop or with things having to do with design. it's a fight to be taken seriously sometimes. it's a fight to be allowed to make mistakes. and i think this is a problem that should be addressed (in general)

i'll try to touch on these things some more later on.

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