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  • 1.  How do we reinforce Scholar-Practitioner model?

    Posted 01-31-2023 10:32 AM
    Architect Harold G. Nelson describes scholar-practitioners as "thinkers and doers."  The two examples of scholar practitioners are martial artists and pilots, practices that require much skill, discipline, and development.  Nelson applies this model to any designer or engineer as a way of explaining the need for lifelong learning and the ability to learn how to think rather than what to think.  How do we reinforce this model upon civil engineering practitioners who are far removed from school after many years? And to those who continue undertake the formal scholarship within the framework of academia? 

    Center for Systemic Design draft prospectus (accidentalvagrant.blogspot.com)

    Chad Morrison P.E., F.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI

  • 2.  RE: How do we reinforce Scholar-Practitioner model?

    Posted 02-02-2023 08:02 AM

    To reinforce the need to think, urge current and past students to study their "thinker."

    See my book Introduction to Creativity and Innovation for Engineers.


    Chapter 2 is titled "The Brain: A Primer." I am not suggesting we master brain knowledge like a neurosurgeon would -- just the basics. Learn about neuroplasticity, conscious and subconscious thinking, changing habits, negativity bias, care and feeding of the brain, and whole-brain thinking methods.

    Stu Walesh

    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author

  • 3.  RE: How do we reinforce Scholar-Practitioner model?

    Posted 02-02-2023 01:53 PM
    Hello Mr. Walesh, I picked your book up from somewhere last year and just read the third chapter at the beginning of January. Which of your book do you recommend as a continuation to your whole brain methods and practices for a young engineer? Such a small world!

    Donovan Morrell A.M.ASCE
    Winter Park FL

  • 4.  RE: How do we reinforce Scholar-Practitioner model?

    Posted 02-03-2023 12:29 PM

    Nice to hear from you -- I appreciate your interest.

    In answer to your question, my book describes 20 whole-brain methods--ways to stimulate creative-innovative thinking. The methods appear in Chapters 4 and 7. I  describe the neuroscience basis of each method.

    Caution: Because of their names, some methods may seem silly to engineers. For example, fishbone diagramming, mind mapping, what if?, and biomimicry. To offset skepticism, I illustrate the use of each method and I have used essentially all of them.

    Creativity and innovation can be learned/stimulated if we try new ways of thinking. Most organizations sit on gold mines of new approaches. However, you have to mine it.

    Best wishes,


    Stuart G. Walesh, Ph.D., P.E.
    Dist.M.ASCE, F.NSPE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author
    3006 Towne Commons Drive
    Valparaiso, IN 46385-2979

    Helping individuals and organizations engineer their futures

    Author of: Engineering's Public-Protection Predicament: Reform Education and Licensure for a Safer Society

  • 5.  RE: How do we reinforce Scholar-Practitioner model?

    Posted 02-03-2023 04:19 PM

    I have found the referred prospectus website quite illuminating. Thanks for bringing it up.

    • Here are some excerpts I quickly picked up from this site . . . These systemic designers are skilled polymaths who have the ability to create assemblies of essential elements into coherent whole systems that serve and enhance human activity . . . For them, thinking and action are integral. They are scholar-practitioners . . . These design agents are social systems designers-designers who work within complex, dynamic environments while navigating towards indeterminate desirable outcomes. These designers have skills and abilities matched to the challenges of guiding, forming, transforming and reforming complex social systems . . .

    • In essence, what this blog is talking about – is mindfulness, the presence of mind in what one is doing. The requirement of practicing mindfulness in jobs, life and everything one does (e.g. as mentioned also in Martial Arts technique where synchronicity of mind and body is aimed at, to be fast and accurate) – is something laid out in ancient wisdoms. This practice further lets one to be conscientious, heedful and diligent. Many tech companies have on-going training programs for their employees on mindfulness.

    Here are some more of my takes:

    • I would argue that the Fourth Approach – the Advancing Proactive Approach – the new norm for the foreseeable future – also have hidden elements of the other three approaches: the Drifting, the Colliding and the Retreating.

    • At a certain time, one comes across the feeling the suggested elements in the blog are like wartime strategies – e.g. how the Generals conceive action plans and strategies to face conflicts and wars.

    • As well, it seems to me – they are rather mechanistic lacking many human elements that are expected of scholar practitioners. Learning and application of these elements are rightly penned down by Prof Walesh . . . neuroplasticity, conscious and subconscious thinking, changing habits, negativity bias, care and feeding of the brain, and whole-brain thinking methods. The materials presented by Prof Hayden in his papers in the ASCE Journal of Leadership and Management in Engineering are also very relevant and important for such practitioners.

    • As for engineering – as we have discussed in some other topics – many engineering works are routine, or repeatation of the same works (albeit they are exactly the same) again and again. In such cases, best-practices guidelines such as codes, standards and manuals play an important role. Despite that mindfulness is an important requirement – be it for scholar or non-scholar practitioners.

    • However, for challenging engineering works in uncharted territories – the materials presented in the prospectus website – in other words, the practice of mindfulness – is very important, let us dare to say, even a must – either for practicing professionals, or for those working in the academia in teaching and research.


    Dr Dilip K Barua, PhD