2016/03/22 08:30 “National Town Hall”, T-Summit 2016

#tsummit2016 New models in higher education with @_ChristineOrtiz (MIT) Richard Miller @OlinCollege

This digest was created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker’s presentation(s) and comments from the audience. The content should not be viewed as an official transcript of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. The digest has been made available for purposes of scholarship, posted by David Ing.

T-Summit 2016, Transformational Approaches to Creating T-Shaped Professionals, National Academy of Sciences Building, March 21-22, 2016

Moderator introduction by Jim Spohrer, IBM

Moderator: Katherine Frase (IBM), VP of Education Business Strategy

  • IBM’s second moon shot, should see more Watson in education

Panel about new models in higher education


  • Christine Ortiz (MIT)
  • Richard Miller (President, Olin College of Engineering)

[Christine Ortiz (MIT)]

“The Research University in the New Millennium”

Youtube video from SXSWEDU last week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYlXObCah5Q

Four components:

  • Flipped curriculum, no classrooms
  • Transdisciplinary research, not departments
  • Powered by technology (developing by Jason Chuang)
  • Societal platform, university more embedded in society

Looking holistically, systemically.

A personalized flipped curriculum

  • Student comes in, has a project-based core
  • No distinction between undergraduate and graduate
  • All content pushed online
  • Use open educational resources (in early days, looking at 4 to 5 years to launch)
  • Want university to be embedded in the university and society:  students are freed up to engage outside of the university
  • Virtual knowledge scaffold as personalized
  • T-shaped student:  how to integrate personal and professional capital with F2F project core, virtual knowledge scaffold and ecosystem

Building platform for virtual metacurriculum

  • Allows more personalized learning pathways

Rather than a T, thinking of the Tree-Shaped Students

  • Computationally-assisted precision curriculum design, throwing out disciplines
  • How to design all of the branches of the tree for an emerging body of knowledge
  • Can unbundle, curate
  • Challenge:  national framework for open educational resources, advocating for that
  • Want to build the design process for students
  • Faculty would be curating and approving with external stakeholders

Examples of potential transdisciplinary learning pathways

  • e.g. intelligence = cs + math + physics + bio/bcs + ee+ hass
  • Looking at course-based undergraduate research, to structure younger students and move them to self-directed
  • Could have thousands of templates in pathways
  • Would like to build a database of open educational resources

From MIT, three programs to be integrated:

  • Students can go in and out
  • Had started 3 years ago in Israel
  • Project-based class, students working with team with companies in Israel
  • How to integrate social, cultural, historical with technology on the ground
  • Would like to have embedded

At MIT, large center Alfred P. Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring

  • Want mentoring to be primary in pedagogy
  • Cross-cultural cohort mentoring

At MIT, Engineering Leadership Curriculum, to leading creative teams

  • Project-based, hands-on
  • Guest lectures
  • Self assessment
  • Case studies
  • Would like to integrated in project-based core

[Richard Miller (President, Olin College of Engineering)]

Was the first employee of Olin College in 1990

  • Were 4 founders, philanthropists, but none were engineers or worked in higher education
  • No tenure, no tuition fees, things having an expiration date

Did as an experiment at 2001

  • Brought in 15 boys and 15 girls, who lived on construction trailers while campus was being build
  • Called them partners, they weren’t students
  • Did experiments every 5 weeks
  • Designed experiments to fail, can’t design to fail in real schools
  • Learned: kids are way more capable than you expect
  • Things don’t happen, because universities structure to prevent failure

What could you remember from your undergraduate education?

  • Little, except the project done in senior year
  • So, then have to have 2 years of calculus and physics before?
  • Gave them a challenge:  5 weeks to create design the sensor that put on the finger, start with the patent literature
  • Get the information, make it work
  • At the end of 5 weeks, we’ll kill this, and find out where people got stuck
  • In 5 weeks, they had it working
  • Brought in the hospital version, calibrated, both did the same thing


  • No, don’t need 2 years of calculus and physics to pick up a wrench: A lot of technological advances didn’t require theory
  • Exceeding own expectation made them 2 feet taller, had a can-do attitude (as compared to the first year math death march)

If you’re starting something new, don’t be afraid to experiment

Learned from Howard Gardner:

  • Intelligence has 7 types
  • More with context and narrative, then mathematics
  • Developed a new definition for an engineer:  imagines what hasn’t been, and then do with it takes to make them
  • Engineering is more about vision, than about mathematics

Every February, NSF proposals

  • Just-in-case engineering

Was a trustee at Babson College

  • They use the word innovation all of the time, without science, no NSF grants

Innovation as about doing things and framing things, that it changes the way people live

  • People can’t imagine how the world was, before that
  • e.g. credit card
  • e.g. iTunes, doesn’t include Nobel prize in physics

A graduate is high up in leadership of Facebook: sells and opportunity to tell your personal story to people you care about

  • You become important in someone else’s life
  • Maslow:  belonging
  • Facebook allows us to do this when it’s otherwise inappropriate

To be an innovation today, need more than math or science

  • Go beyond knowledge to address attitude, values and motivations
  • Piaget:  what’s left over
  • Not just teaching calculus, teaching attitudes values and motivations

Frase:  role of art

  • Decade of design, importance to motivate
  • Olin was there already

[Katherine Frase]

P-tech program

What about employable skills, what happens in 2-years colleges and higher high school

P-tech in NYC

  • School in Brooklyn, so bad, city let IBM play
  • Partnered with CUNY, 6-year program
  • IBM promised to interview with
  • Not a charter school, it’s someplace local
  • Principal believed in students
  • Courses could take Gen-X and technology

First group of students has now graduated

  • Can-do attitude

Answer is not that industry should take over education

  • Most education still done by professionals in school

Model now picked up in Chicago, Connecticut, Australia

  • Ties together pathways to employment and pathways to employable skills
  • Not everyone should be on an IT path
  • However, not just a T-shaped engineer will need soft skills, everyone will need some computing and data skills


When we blow up the traditional structure, what do we do about accreditation, what the diploma says, and how they get interviewed for a job.

  • Richard: For first 5 years at Olin, got this question from parents
  • Can’t accredit until the first students graduate
  • In the end, Olin was accredited
  • Have reinvented curriculum 3 times before the first class graduated
  • Accreditation board:  define mission, define outcomes you expect, define process, then feedback to continually approve
  • Christine:  A model at UT Austin
  • MIT has been approved for micro-masters
  • Converting from MITx into credits
  • Doing it from beginning
  • Will probably not have accreditation for the first parts
  • Will probably do what Olin did

How to maintain, from broad portfolio of educational options, now everyone wants to be engineer or do math.  Where does it fit in higher education suite?  What about students that only want to study one thing.

  • Christine: some elements transferrable
  • Focus on science and technology (technology in the broadest sense, with technology and humanities and social scientists)
  • Innovations that could be transferrable
  • Thinking about how to bring down costs
  • Our specific focus in on science and technology

How can we can’t find engineers who walk and chew gum, take 3 years to train.  EC2000, Engineer 2020.  Part that seems to be missing is corporations.  There are 20 companies (like IBM, Dell, Cisco) that get this.  If you have to start the conversation, you won’t get there.

  • Richard:  Can only teach what you know.
  • If start from individual performance (towards a Nobel), don’t know what it’s like to teach in a group
  • Change the way Ph.D.s are prepared
  • Bring students into a candidates weekend, put them in groups of 5, they’ve never met before
  • Evaluated on attitudes, values and motivations
  • Need to capitalize on the people around you, and the people around them
  • Universities need a comfort level around this
  • Engineering is almost unique in the way we ignore experience in industry
  • Faculty in medicine get most of the pay in clinics
  • Law school faculty have mostly passed bar, dean
  • How many engineering deans came from industry:  much closer to science than to professions
  • Christine:  MIT has committee structure
  • How can industry be involved at the more granular level:  faculty creating pathways and endorsing curriculum
  • Want more pathways relevant to industry
  • e.g. crowdsourcing and social media
  • Can we do this using technology?
  • For every pathway, there are many more sub-pathways, for different job areas
  • Some companies are using machine learning to analyze job descriptions and roles
  • Thinking about how we use technology to do this

UNC Charlotte trying something similar, but different.  Engineering, Ph.D. then 15 year in an architecture department, studio.  Problem was it doesn’t scale up, need a relationship with students.  UNC Charlotte gets a wide range of students.  Starting from private, not public?

  • Richard:  started a new institution, but only because scale of change not welcomed
  • First partner was U Illinois Champaign, 40,000 students
  • Have worked with them for 3 years, have integrated into the first 2 years
  • Book: A Whole New Engineer http://wholenewengineer.org/
  • Even U. of Illinois is selective, not open enrollment
  • Last 2 year working with U. Texas El Paso, open enrollment, 2/3 Hispanic students
  • They’re taking elements, and getting results
  • Methods will be adopted at all levels, not just elite
  • Christine:  Have been looking at UT Austin, scaled up to 900 students, tiered model: undergraduate, graduate, faculty
  • Graduate education model, MIT
  • Have had architects, like studio interaction, drawing interaction

Have faculty sit in the classes they assign to the students

  • When you hire new faculty, make sure they work in teams with people from other disciplines