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A Lab For All Seasons, A Lab For All Reasons: Enlarging The Participant Base

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Technology Literacy for Non-Engineers

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.54.1 - 12.54.17

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Paper Authors


David Ollis North Carolina State University

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DAVID F. OLLIS is Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University. He has recently co-authored, with John Krupcazak, Hope College, a NSF-sponsored workshop report titled "Improving the Technological Literacy of Undergraduates: Identifying the Research Issues" , 2005.

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A Lab for All Reasons, A Lab for All Seasons: Enlarging the Participant Base


A “device dissection” laboratory, based initially on light driven devices, was conceived and realized in the early 1990s as a means of introducing new engineering students to the field of engineering1. The varieties of summer and semester engineering uses for this facility were summarized in an earlier paper2 of related title “A Lab for All Seasons, A Lab for All Reasons.” The present paper, “A Lab for All Reasons, A Lab for All Seasons: Enlarging the Participant Base,” extends utilization of our engineering laboratory to non-engineering faculty and to non-engineering students. The first of these newer forays involves utilization of the lab as an enrichment adjunct to courses taught in other non-engineering departments, here with examples from Foreign Languages and Literatures, and Industrial Design. The second involves a new Technology Literacy course created for non-engineering students, and taught with the assistance of an English department faculty member (also serving in the College of Engineering’s Writing Assistance program). Collectively, these three instructional efforts illustrate collaborations with faculty and students in non-engineering disciplines, and are thus examples of multidisciplinary forays in technology education, in which one discipline is always engineering. Further, our Technology Literacy course and the Spanish foreign language course both satisfy Science, Technology, and Society (STS) distribution requirements for non-technical and technical students, respectively. As such, these course are examples of liberal education for students in complementary majors.


In the 1990s, we developed an extensive “device dissection “ laboratory experience for entering engineering students1. The laboratory originated from a series of light-driven devices (bar code scanner, compact disc (CD) player, facsimile machine (FAX), digital and video cameras, photocopy machine, optical fiber communications, and ultraviolet water purifier) derived from the author’s research interests in light-activated semiconductors. Graduate students in a 1992 version of Photochemical Engineering wrote the initial lab instructional drafts. Subsequently, these devices were supplemented with others including those common to the mechanical engineering device dissection labs3 pioneered by Sheri Sheppard (Stanford) (electric drill, internal combustion engine, bicycle) as well as (model) airplanes, acoustic and electric guitars, the Internet (virtual device) and cell phones.

Proceedings of the 2007 American Society of Engineering Education Conference and Exposition Copyright @ 2007 American Society of Engineering Education

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