Building Blocks Are Not Just For Kids
Students in the capstone course, "Critical Issues in Management," taught by Dolan School of Business’ Dr. Michael Cavanaugh participated in a unique semester long assignment on 3D Chain Reaction Self Destructing Structure with Keva Blocks. This particular capstone course is designed to further develop management and team building skills that students have acquired in other management classes leading up to this point in their academic careers.
The project task is to work in teams to design and build a structure made up of 4,500 KEVA Planks – a type of wooden building brick. Every plank measures about a quarter of an inch thick, three fourths of an inch wide, by four and a half inches long. Structures can be built with KEVAs by simply stacking the planks, which can appear like a house of cards. No glue or bolts allowed. People of all ages, from preschoolers to architects, can use these types of blocks. The trick is that the structure must also be able to self-destruct.
Dr. Michael Cavanaugh, associate professor of management, who developed and teaches the class said, “This course has students putting all their management courses to work. It’s about working in a hands-on problem-solving environment, and that is what ‘doing’ business is all about. It’s also about students engaging as active learners.”
This semester however, the class was challenged in new ways compared to classes who have completed this course in the past. Unfortunately, Dr. Cavanaugh suffered from an injury and was unable to participate as actively as in past semesters. This set back required the students to proactively use the active learning skills Dr. Cavanaugh had taught them prior to his injury in order to complete the project task.
Students Joseph Black, Romario Lemy, and David Horwich stepped up and fulfilled leadership roles in class to ensure the completion of the 3D Chain Reaction Self Destructing Structure with Keva Blocks project. Romario took on the role of the engineer/planner, whereas Horwich became the Cantilever expert, and Black was in charging of creating the blueprint, and coordinating and motivating participants to build the physical structure. All three leaders deeply understood the immensity of the task at hand and quickly realized that they needed to encourage active participation and enthusiasm from their peers. In doing so, they established a core group of dedicated students to cohesively accomplish the task.
Course takeaways included learning from failure and how to tackle tasks when obstacles present themselves.
“This semester I learned a lot about myself as a leader,” said Black. “This class was great for as a capstone because it took all the lessons we have learned in prior management classes and we had to apply them to this project to create a successful working environment to reach our end goal.”
Photos taken by Catherine Brabazon