Newswise — Diana Dabby, music program director and associate professor of electrical engineering and music, recently won a 2019 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Best Paper award for “The Engineers’ Orchestra: a Conductorless Orchestra for Developing 21st Century Professional Skills.” The recognition includes an invitation to attend and present the paper at the ASEE National Conference in Montreal from June 21-24, 2020.

In “The Engineers’ Orchestra,” Dabby explores the relationship between the neurological benefits of music-making and the development of professional skills, such as leadership, teamwork and communication, that are essential to today’s engineers.

Dabby’s abstract states: “…effective teamwork and communication constitute two widely acknowledged traits of skilled leadership. Why not give our engineer-musicians an orchestra to call their own—a conductorless orchestra where they practice these professional skills in a large team environment—while doing something they love—music?” Click here to read her paper in full.

Since its fall 2002 inception, the Olin Conductorless Orchestra (OCO) has been a Project-Based Learning (PBL) course where students operate the classroom. Dabby, as the course professor, contributes as guide-on-the-side, coach and re-orchestrator of works chosen by the group.

In helping to run rehearsals, students develop leadership, teamwork, and communication skills in a large team environment. With an essentially flat hierarchy that incorporates an ever-evolving sense of culture and cooperation as a working ensemble, OCO functions as a team of musicians—regardless of position—comprising students, faculty, and external guests, all dedicated to making good music with intensity, camaraderie, excitement, and humor.

The OCO performs at Olin several times during the course of the year at events like Expo and Candidates’ Weekends, as well as throughout the Greater Boston community. Watch OCO performances here.

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