Monday, September 15

Think Like an Engineer & MOOCify (Prof Mushtak Al-Atabi)

"33% of the S&P 500 CEOs' undergraduate degrees are in engineering, and only 11% are in business administration." 
- Business Insider 2013


Professor Mushtak Al-Atabi is currently the Dean of School of Engineering at Taylor's University, Malaysia. He is a passionate educator, innovator and has an exceptional drive to challenge the status quo, and inspire students to discover and unleash their true potential.  He is most known for pioneering the use of the CDIO (Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate) educational framework in Malaysia, and offering one of the first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in Asia in 2013.

Click here to discover more about him and his exceptional work.


Why should you read Think Like an Engineer?

Today, we are for spoilt for choice on books exploring the mind (and Neuroscience of the brain) and how we can unlock our amazing potential through rethinking the way we think, which include positive thinking, entrepreneurial thinking, growth mindset, Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), law of attraction, creative/critical thinking, etc. So, why this book? 

Coming from a non-engineering background, it was really refreshing to explore Think Like an Engineer, which introduced me for the first time to CDIO process, and how it can be applied to solve everyday challenges and unlock the inherent values in them. 

More interestingly, Think Like an Engineer goes beyond that to explore passionately and creatively how the brain works (Brainology), emotional intelligence, ergonomics (Human Centred Design), communication, teamwork, project management, entrepreneurship and innovation, encouraging failure (to innovate), structured problem solving, and engineering holistic education.

Alright, most of the items above can be Googled or found it other books, but what really inspired me to read Think Like an Engineer from start to end, was re-experiencing with my imagination Prof Mushtak's captivating personal stories and unique techniques he uses to systematically and creatively rewire students brains to develop an entrepreneurial mindset with a healthy, caring and positive outlook.

For example, Prof Mushtak outlaws the P-word (PROBLEM) in his courses and replaces it wherever it appears in the curriculum with either "OPPORTUNITY" or "CHALLENGE". To encourage students to stop using the P-word, he has created what he calls the "OPPORTUNITY NOTE". If they keep their promise of not using the P-word throughout the semester, he will personally sign this special note for them.  

In his Emotional Intelligence course, students are required to "brain rewire" a positive mindset by reporting 5 things that they were grateful for on a daily basis for a period of 18 weeks (adapted from Ben Shahar's gratitude journal reporting technique).

Think Like an Engineer provides many examples on how his unique techniques (and passion) has worked with transforming the mindset of especially Asian and Malaysian students, which I find more relevant and contextualized than reading how successful people like Steve Jobs has created a dent in the Universe. 

Finally,  Think Like an Engineer also provides some insights on how he has explored his learning and mindset techniques online through MOOCs (using the OpenLearning platform), and how thousands of students joining his MOOCs from more than one hundred countries have been impacted positively from them.


To find out more, you might want to explore these two MOOCs offered by Prof Mushtak:
What I found most perplexing and astonishing with Prof Mushtak (after getting to know him) is that he is not exactly the most tech savvy educator I have come across, but through his amazing drive and passion to transform and prove people wrong, he is facilitating one of the most inspiring and dynamic MOOCs that I have come across. 

His student enrollment numbers (2,000+ per course) cannot compete yet with the kings of Coursera, Edx, Udacity, etc., but the quality and personal touch he provides by every day engaging with students using various tools on OpenLearning, especially through chat....Makes his courses second to none!

After discovering him online, I have also got to know him offline. I have learned a lot from him since, but I have also made sure he has picked up a few tricks from me, too. Like juggling balls!

We both have a passion to share what we learn, so that is a good start :)

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