As generally happens, out of the blue I received an email inviting me to facilitate a creative thinking workshop, this time for engineering students at the national Conference on Diversity in Engineering (CDE2016) sponsored by McGill University in Montreal, November 18-20.
On her request in 2014, I’d partnered with Marci Segal in developing and presenting a Creativity and Confidence workshop to female engineering students during their WISE (Women in Science & Engineering) National Conference in Toronto.
Apparently, a participant at that workshop recommended it to the coordinators of CDE2016 .
I love working with Marci. She’s now living in Canmore, Alberta, so I immediately sent her a note asking if she’d be interested and available to plan and facilitate with me. “In a heartbeat!” she wrote back within minutes.
We sealed the deal with the conference team, and began to collaborate using Skype and Google Docs. An academic with an MS in Creativity, Marci has led creativity programs worldwide (including NASA, PHD Canada, Ricoh), and is the creator of management training modalities and of World Creativity and Innovation Week April 15-21, now celebrated in more than 50 countries. I’m author, artist, and coach to creatives who has studied art, screenwriting, and photography – and created original initiatives (such as skits, TV shows, mini-conferences, podcasts and Mining Your Creativity presentation) at virtually every stage of my adult life. Marci and I easily incorporate our different styles, background and experiences and have a great rapport in front of audiences.
After several conversations with members of the CDE2016 team as to their needs and objectives for this workshop, we came up with its title and description:
Marci and I pooled our resources, brainstormed ideas, decided upon appropriate challenges for participants, chose illustrations, and developed/designed the slides for a PowerPoint. Using Google Docs we created a logical outline and timeline:
We also created a Twitter hashtag for posting comments (click on it to go to Twitter):
The weekend was a blast, yet getting there was a definite challenge for each of us. My husband was hospitalized with severe back pain earlier that week. As a result, on Thursday, the day before I was to leave, we had to turn down a potential kidney transplant. Until that evening I had no idea if I’d be able to leave. My kids urged me to go, promising to stay with my husband as much as possible. Marci, on the other hand, was stuck that same day in a snowstorm at the Denver airport where all planes were grounded, while only 2 of 27 de-icers were operable. She thought she was on her way to Calgary after leading sessions for Peace officers in San Diego. Instead, at 3 in the morning she was re-routed to Montreal through New York. Marci slept on the floor of the airport waiting for her flight to leave.
What we do to keep our commitments!
We had a wonderful time in Montreal. We each met long-time friends, rode the Metro, ate at the famous Snowdon deli, and enjoyed watching the terrific play Prom Queen. The best part, though, was the conference. During breakfast before our workshop and during lunch afterwards, we met so many enthusiastic students seriously committed to their futures. We chatted with them about their backgrounds and motivations for choosing engineering. We were amazed to learn of the multitude of specialties in engineering today, among them chemical, material, software, project, automation, mechanical, electrical, applications, power systems, etc. and on…
Our workshop was scheduled to start right after breakfast from 9:30 until 11:00. We arrived a half hour early to set everything up. Our seminar room has a spectacular view of the city and beyond and is situated on the 37th floor of the Marriot Chateau Champlain hotel. About forty people settled in at the long tables facing the front. We were introduced. Marci started speaking.
She introduced the topic and workshop objectives:
We gave the group our first challenge, a game: work individually or in groups to create a four word sentence connecting the hashtag #wciw of World Creativity and Innovation Week to the issues related to diversity discussed over the conference weekend.
Here are some of the clever results:
As we’d promised, our workshop was packed with techniques and tools to think creatively, including this slide:
Our audience listened carefully, took notes, worked in groups to address challenges, and shared their Eurekas:
All in all, we had a great time presenting, offered tons of laughter, and received terrific feedback, including invitations to present this workshop at other universities across Canada. And afterwards, we had the unique experience studying the Trading of Crests, a long time engineering student tradition:
If you belong to, or know of, an organization, group or business that could use our Creative Thinking Tools and Techniques presentation, please contact me: Nellie Jacobs at Rogers dot com.
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