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Addressing Contemporary Issues, Lifelong Learning, And The Impact Of Engineering On Global And Societal Issues In The Classroom

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Accreditation Issues

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.153.1 - 13.153.16



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Paper Authors


Kenneth Van Treuren Baylor University

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Dr. Van Treuren is a professor on the faculty in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Baylor University. He teaches the capstone Mechanical Engineering Laboratory course as well as courses in heat transfer, aerospace engineering, fluid mechanics, and wind power. His research interests include energy education and literacy and gas turbine heat transfer. He can be contacted at

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Addressing Contemporary Issues, Lifelong Learning, and the Impact of Engineering on Global and Societal Issues in the Classroom


Whenever there is a discussion of outcomes a-k for ABET EC 2000, the outcomes least understood are those involving knowledge of contemporary issues, lifelong learning, and the impact of engineering on global and societal issues. Most faculty believe they understand the intent of these topics, but to identify where these criteria are supported in a curriculum is often difficult. A separate course or seminar is not necessarily the answer as most programs cannot afford the addition of more classroom hours. A simple method of addressing these issues used by the author for the past three years is to have students accomplish short presentations on topics of their choice related to the course. In the last year, explicitly adding a requirement to present on a topic related to contemporary issues and/or the impact of engineering on global and societal issues yielded more focused presentations. Having the students pick their own topics allowed them to pursue something that they find personally interesting and wished to present to the class. For the first two years, additional credit was given to students who have a range of reference materials, especially materials found in the library. This developed research skills beyond that of the worldwide web. Topics were very different and students were not allowed to give a presentation on a topic that had already been given. Many of the presentations naturally addressed topics dealing with contemporary, global or societal issues and this gave the opportunity for further discussion. For the heat transfer class in which this was implemented, topics have included energy production, biomedical applications, safety issues, and the impact of heat transfer on day-to-day living. Students clearly enjoyed the presentations and everyone, including the author, was exposed to topics that might not normally be included in the classroom. .


There are many influences on any mechanical engineering program that have greatly impacted the curricular content. None is more profound than the ABET EC 2000. EC 2000 Criterion 3 has become the central core for most programs, as it is the standard for assessment. While traditional evaluation has been in regards to the usual program content such as applying knowledge of mathematics, science and engineering, it is the intangible or “soft” outcomes that have caused the most concern. More specifically, the outcomes most underrepresented in programs are the outcomes that state graduates from engineering programs must have:

h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning j) a knowledge of contemporary issues.

Recently, while preparing for an ABET evaluation, the mechanical faculty at Baylor University

Van Treuren, K. (2008, June), Addressing Contemporary Issues, Lifelong Learning, And The Impact Of Engineering On Global And Societal Issues In The Classroom Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3893

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