People with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), some studies suggest, are more creative and more willing to take risks. Those traits are exactly what the field of engineering needs, say a team of researchers, but the traditional model of teaching is driving away potential pioneers in the field.
With funding from the Research in Engineering Education, a program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), they're embarking on a study designed to find a better way to teach these students.
People with ADHD often have poor time management skills and, depending on the tasks, have trouble focusing and can be prone to procrastination. But ADHD is also strongly associated with the ability to think quickly in unconventional ways - the kind of thinking that can find solutions to the types of complex problems that engineers often encounter.
Yet traditional engineering training rarely takes advantage of these strengths, say the researchers, who come from the fields of engineering, education, psychology, and psychopharmacology. It tends to be rigid, and sets very narrow goals for students, says Arash E. Zaghi, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering. Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) - while no less intelligent than their peers - are stymied by the traditional model of engineering education.