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David Goldberg
David Goldberg, Ph.D., is President of ThreeJoy Associates and co-founder of the Big Beacon Movement. In these roles he focuses on leadership coaching for students, faculty, and administrators in higher education, as well as technology executives and professionals around the world, helping them grow and develop to better align with the creativity imperative of the 21st century. His goal is to “rewire” engineering schools and programs into places that unleash and inspire a new generation of students to become not just technically competent engineers, but also passionate and creative problem solvers.

Dave first recognized the need for transforming engineering education early on when he was a teaching assistant at the University of Michigan. Even though other professors didn’t see the same vision as Dave, he stayed true to his convictions and went on to author his first book, Life Skills and Leadership for Engineers, in which he detailed his early theories about the skills engineers need but were seldom taught in school. It wasn’t until 2006 that other professors and engineering professionals began echoing his concerns.

Prior to founding ThreeJoy Associates and Big Beacon, Dave was the Jerry S. Dobrovolny Distinguished Professor in Entrepreneurial Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), where he was known for his path-breaking research in genetic algorithms and evolutionary computation, as well as his passion and commitment to rethinking engineering education. In 2007 he
began a lecture series on The Engineer of the Future. The ideas presented led to him to co-founding and co-directing the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry), a cross-disciplinary curriculum incubator in the College of Engineering at UIUC dedicated to the transformation of engineering education. He is also the co-founder of ShareThis, Inc (, the largest platform for
sharing and influence across the web.

Dave is the author of several books, including Philosophy and Engineering: An Emerging Agenda (edited with Ibo van de Poel), The Entrepreneurial Engineer, The Design of Innovation, Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization & Machine Learning, and Life Skills And Leadership For Engineers. He holds BSE, MSE, and PhD degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Certificate in Leadership Coaching from Georgetown University.

Dave’s travels to promote engineering education transformation take him around the world — to Asia, South America, the United States, and Europe — where he’s brought in as a visiting professor or a consultant to help higher education leaders embrace the vision of the future engineer and promote effective change on their campus. By 2022, he envisions his Big Beacon movement spreading beyond engineering education, to education in all fields at all levels.

Entries by David Goldberg

The Making of A Whole New Engineer

(1) Comments | Posted September 28, 2014 | 4:55 PM

Mark Somerville and I have put the final touches on the production of our book A Whole New Engineer: The Coming Revolution in Engineering Education, and I was reflecting on large writing projects such as books and how easy it is to underestimate the amount of work required...

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5 Times in a Career When Academics Should Hire a Coach

(1) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 7:01 PM

The use of executive or leadership coaches has become an accepted and widespread practice in private corporations, non-profits, and government, and the reasons are becoming clearer (here). When individuals are coached, they become more effective at work and at home with notable improvements in both their task &...

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The Joy of Vulnerability: Public, Personal & Otherwise

(0) Comments | Posted May 22, 2013 | 4:33 PM

After finishing up a post over at Big Beacon on Educating Wholehearted Engineers & Educators (here), I was reflecting about the notion of vulnerability and the ways in which we are vulnerable both publicly and privately. To summarize, the blogpost was a riff on Brene Brown's Power of...

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Expertise and the Beauty of Not Knowing

(0) Comments | Posted May 14, 2013 | 5:45 PM

Since World War II, we have lived in a world of experts and expertise, and for an expert, not knowing gets a bad rap. Actually, its worse than that. For an expert, the very idea of not knowing challenges one's self-image, one's entire story of oneself. After all experts are...

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Journey to the Center of Our Brains

(0) Comments | Posted May 1, 2013 | 3:16 PM

An earlier blogpost (here) argued for authentically discussing the emotional phenomena of education transformation with emotional language in place of the usual rational code words of educational discourse. That post discussed Brene Brown's work and offered her TED talk on the Power of Vulnerability. This post continues in...

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5 Enemies of Transformative Educational Change

(0) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 5:48 PM

There is widespread talk about transformative change in engineering education. A variety of visions of what engineering and engineering education should become have been put forward, and governments the world over have thrown or are throwing millions if not billions of dollars to change engineering education, but as the French...

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Educating Wholehearted Engineers & Educators

(3) Comments | Posted April 19, 2013 | 1:02 PM

I was giving a short workshop to PhD students at the National University of Singapore on Thursday, and the title was Mastering the Leadership, Organizational, and Emotional Challenges of a Career in Teaching or Research. This particular offering was two, three-hour sessions covering the noticing, listening, questioning (NLQ), and story...

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Engineering Education in a Not-Too-Distant Day

(0) Comments | Posted January 3, 2013 | 1:27 PM

In the year 2023. The year is 2023, and engineering has become the education of choice for an increasing number of college-bound high school seniors. Where once top students aspired to business, law, or medicine, engineering is now seen as both a prestigious and balanced liberal education in a human-centered...

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From Consumption to Creation: A New Way to Think About Ownership in Engineering Education

(0) Comments | Posted November 19, 2012 | 11:49 AM

For generations, engineering education -- and education in all disciplines for that matter -- has been a consumption process. The role of the student is to sit, observe, and absorb while the instructor "pours" knowledge into eager minds. Such an...

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Four Pillars of Engineering Education Reform that Will Attract (and Graduate) More Students

(3) Comments | Posted September 24, 2012 | 5:22 PM

Over the last few decades, much time and energy has gone toward reform efforts in engineering education. This work has yielded a great deal of insight into the relative effectiveness of different teaching approaches, and has led to calls for the adoption of experimentally validated pedagogies in STEM (science, technology,...

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A Different Kind of Diversity: The Changing Face of Engineering Education

(10) Comments | Posted August 24, 2012 | 3:59 PM

Image source: Royalty Free/Getty Images

In the U.S. and abroad, calls abound for attracting students to engineering in high school, for providing incentives to students to complete their engineering degrees, and for increasing funding for engineering programs. Why? The argument is simple:...

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Three Habits at Three Levels for Improved Engineering Education

(1) Comments | Posted August 7, 2012 | 2:31 PM

Students in advanced economies today want to become anything but engineers (A.B.E.) and often choose to become lawyers, physicians, or businesspeople instead. Even those who do study engineering sometimes leave because (1) they are unable to align their aspirations with the subject matter as taught, and (2) a hostile, dismissive,...

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Below the Waterline: A Deep Dive to Rethink Engineering Education

(0) Comments | Posted July 16, 2012 | 12:58 PM

If we think of engineering education as an iceberg, many educators are focused on the visible part of the iceberg -- the part above the waterline. As such, they teach students the known elements of existing science, math, engineering science, etc., thus leading students on a path of "mastery of...

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Ten Steps to a Whole New Engineer and a Whole New Engineering Education: Part 2

(5) Comments | Posted July 11, 2012 | 2:19 PM

In the first installment of this article, we discussed the ways in which engineering is increasingly not the career avenue of choice for an array of talented young people who might otherwise make terrific engineers; we suggested how this situation could be reversed by adopting a new vision of the whole...

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Ten Steps to a Whole New Engineer and a Whole New Engineering Education

(0) Comments | Posted June 26, 2012 | 10:38 AM

We live in a technological time. With nearly 7 billion people on the planet (and counting), we depend upon technology in almost every aspect of our lives. Billions are clothed, healed, fed, transported, connected, entertained, and employed through increasingly complex products, processes, and systems. And while technology is in one...
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Engineering Students Can Do X

(0) Comments | Posted June 12, 2012 | 9:42 AM

One of the many blessings in my life has been my ability to travel and help transform engineering education around the world. These experiences have given me some insight into today's engineering students and have helped me see that no matter where we live, we're not so different after all....
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