Why Synergies

What "Create for Good" Is

Russ College of Engineering and Technology at Ohio University has the motto “create for good”. I like this motto because it helps me remember my role as an educator: "to graduate engineers who 'create for good'". Wouldn't any educator, say, from medical, vocational, fine arts, social sciences, humanities, engineering, business, or high school want to graduate doctors, nurses, technicians, artists, social scientists, humanities professionals, engineers, business professionals, or high school graduates who "create for good"? Shouldn't "create for good" be the motto, not only of all educators, but also of all educational institutions? I suggest "create for good" be the motto of any university. Other than the literal meaning of “create for good” I will attempt to define it in ways that allow me to incorporate “create for good” in my daily teaching and learning in the classroom.

I asked my engineering colleagues and students what “create for good” means to them. Interestingly, I got more intriguing answers from my students than from my colleagues.

  • A colleague said that "'create for good' means to build an assembly line that improves manufacturing efficiency and reduces waste".

  • A third-year student said that “‘create for good’ means to build cars that are environmentally friendly”.

  • A first-year student said that “‘create for good’ means to eradicate poverty, or to make sure everyone has access to clean drinking water”.

"How can we use the scientific process and the engineering methodology to eradicate poverty?"

Systems Approach (Black Box): Input/Output

NOTE: Although I present Synergies by frequently referring to "Our University" one may replace the word "university" by "college", "school", "course", "society", "program", "team", or "church", etc. and carry on the discussion on Synergies and "create for good".

To understand the essence of “create for good” with respect to teaching and learning, I utilized the systems or black box approach, a common engineering methodology:

“If Our University is a black box with input 'students in’ and output ‘graduates out’ what happens in the black box, so our students become graduates who ‘create for good’?”

Systems Approach III.png

Gardner's "Multiple Intelligences"

Grounded on Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences, Gardner (1983), I understand my students own various degrees of spatial, musical, logical-mathematical, naturalist, linguistic, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, and intrapersonal intelligences. Each one of my students is characterized by a profile of multiple intelligences which affects the student’s learning. In addition, the profile is "plastic" and changes shape based on acquired knowledge, accumulated experiences, as well as stimuli experienced by the student at any time. Therefore, the profile should be considered in the teaching and learning process.

"I view Gardner’s 'Multiple Intelligences' as a set of divergent forces that at any point in time 'push or pull' the learner in different directions at 6 degrees of freedom, minimum; and I view the learner’s profile as a 'squishy ball' whose shape changes dynamically by the instantaneous 'push or pull' of the Multiple Intelligences."


Gardner's "Five Minds for the Future"

Furthermore, to define the role of education, Gardner suggested that as educators we aim to cultivate in our students the “Five Minds for the Future” being the disciplined, synthesizing, creating, respectful, and ethical, Gardner (2009).

"I view Gardner's 'Five Minds for the Future' as a set of convergent forces towards the greater good. Therefore, I consider the 'Five Minds for the Future' to be the attributes of 'create for good'."

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From “Multiple Intelligences”, to “Five Minds for the Future”, to “Create for Good"

"Education transforms learners with 'Multiple Intelligences' to citizens with the 'Five Minds for the Future' who 'create for good'."

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"Teaching, learning, and transformation happens in the black box."

When I shared these findings with my colleagues in education and engineering, they smiled: “Athan”, they said, “we know that education is teaching, learning, and transformation!”  “Yes”, I responded,

“but now we know what we are transforming into what, and for what reason.”

Process to System Map III.png

"If 'create for good' is a vector, what are its Cartesian vector components?"

NOTE: Although I present Synergies by frequently referring to "engineering education", one may replace the word "engineering" with "economics", "history", "nursing", "philosophy", "accounting, "art", etc. and carry on the discussion on Synergies and "create for good" for any discipline.

To analyze “create for good” and be able to integrate it in my daily interactions of teaching and learning I utilized vector analysis, a common engineering analysis tool.

"Create for Good" Analysis

The teaching of engineering  is, primarily, composed of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). To graduate engineers who “create for good” it is imperative that we equivalently incorporate the humanities, arts, social sciences, and social responsibility in the curriculum. One may claim that the humanities, arts, social sciences, and social responsibility are already incorporated in the curriculum in the form of required and elective courses the students have to take. However, "the study of these courses is mostly compartmentalized and disconnected from STEM making it difficult for students and professors to draw meaningful connections to engineering learning and 'create for good'."

Vector Create for Good.png
Vector STEM.png
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Vector Social Responsibility.png

STEM ACTIVITIES (pertains to the teaching of STEM courses, leadership, community engagement, research and creative activity)

HUMANITIES, ARTS, AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ACTIVITIES (pertains to social and emotional intelligence, know thyself, experiential learning, position thyself in our world, resilience, diversity & inclusion, appreciation of the aesthetic, leadership, community engagement, research and creative activity)

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACTIVITIES (pertains to experiential learning, service-learning, place-based learning, ethical responsibility, leadership, community engagement, research and creative activity)

NOTE: Although I describe my graduates as "Renaissance Engineers", one may replace the word "engineers" with "doctors", "technicians", "artists", "social scientists, "accountants, "nurses", etc. and describe how they envision their graduates to be "Renaissance Folks."

C4G Detail.png

"I believe Synergies in Teaching and Learning (Synergies) educate the whole student by enabling the integration of STEM with liberal arts and social responsibility, thus nurturing students to become the Renaissance Engineers (not technocrats) who 'create for good'."

Renaissance Engineers "Create for Good" by Working at the Intersection of STEM, Liberal Arts, and Social Responsibility


Gardner, H. (1983).  Frames of mind.  New York, NY: Basic Books.

Gardner, H. (2009).  The Five Minds for the Future.  School Administrator, 66 (2), 16 – 20.