How Experimental Learning is Driving Innovation Forward

Author: Evaguel Rhysing

Originally posted: July 25, 2017
Last edited: 7 months, 4 weeks ago

Every great invention ever created could not have existed without the pillars that drive the knowledge necessary for its fruition, which are: education, experience, curiosity and innovation. One cannot exist without the other. This makes one
wonder; can you balance all four and not favor one over the other? This is something that the Theory of Experimental Learning executes very well.

The Theory of Experimental Learning is the brain child of educational theorist David A. Kolb who believes 'learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience' (1984, p.38). His theory presents a cyclical model of learning that consists of four stages, which are:
concrete experience, observation and reflection, forming abstract concepts, and testing in new situations.

How is this related to innovation? Well, it is related because in today's society most engineering students only learn in theories and perfect scenarios and do not face the real world until they enter the workforce. Once in the workforce most of them leave behind their years of natural curiosity and wonder that lived within them throughout their college careers. Along with it, they leave their inclination towards innovation. However, students that are exposed to experimental learning where they use their own experiences, reflect on these, critically think to form abstract concepts, and use these concepts to test in new situations are going through an educational process that favors scientific inquiry and methods. In other words, they use their experiences and newly acquired knowledge to think about a problem and how to solve it which leads to innovation.

United Aircraft Technologies, Inc. is a product of this educational theory. The ICC and company itself came to be thanks to the MANE Department and Inventor's Studio in Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY. Their effective use of the theory gave the engineers involved in this venture the necessary tools to innovate and think of better ways to do a job. To
think about the future and their impact on it. To innovate. Therefore, we are proud to spread the word about their programs because we are a product of their good work in the educational field of engineering.

1. Kolb, David A. 1984. Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development. Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

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