Special Issue on Promoting Intellectual Sports
Department of MechanoAerospace Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152, Japan
Are you acquainted with Hackel’s hypothesis? Humans evolved over several billion years from simple creatures living in the sea, to quadrupeds, and finally to bipeds. According to the hypothesis of Ernst Heinrich Hackel (1834-1919), the same evolution takes place in eggs in the human birth process; that is, the phylogeny followed by the species reappears in the process of ontogeny. This hypothesis implies a very important suggestion regarding the training of young engineers who will be the support and driving force of the advanced technology society. Humans built a wonderful advanced technology society by accumulating the technologies developed by their predecessors. If this is to continue, what will be the best way of training genuine engineers able to further develop current advanced technologies? Neither top-down desk theory that teaches theories recursively based on experience nor superficial technical skill training designed to enable students to use state-of-the- art technology products can produce really creative engineers. Most important is not such education but the real experience in which students touch an object, designs the object themselves, and complete the object; that is, the process in which students experience for themselves the phylogeny of technology that humans followed in the process of ontogeny as individual engineers. The training of engineers is the most suitable field for applying Hackel’s hypothesis. We are living in an age flooded with products that make the most of advanced technology. Most products incorporate advanced technology in the form of a black box, which makes the essence of an object more difficult to understand than in the past. Systematic efforts should be made to introduce a new system in which children experience Hackel’s hypothesis without difficulty. One effective measure of achieving this objective is to popularize intellectual sports — games of making objects that liberate people from the conventional fixed concept of objector product manufacturing synonymous with manufacturing activities, and enables them to unconsciously train their engineering sense by letting them naturally accept manufacturing in the process of their growth. F1 contests and human bird contests are examples of such games, but robot contests are a much better example. This is because human-like robots easily attract people’s attention and that the process of constructing robots enables people to learn engineering technology “naturally.” Based on this view, we have compiled reports on the experiences of instructors who conduct creative education through manufacturing of articles, particularly instructors conducting robot contests. The information provided in this special issue will, we hope, serve as research material for instructors starting engineering education and creative education through manufacturing. We aldo hope this issue will contribute to the spread of intellectual sports.