July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
The Engineering Studies Program at our institution has graduated more than 900 majors over its 50-year history. These graduates have gone on to careers in a wide range of roles in a variety of industries. While the major requirements have evolved over time, the core principles of the program – articulated in the program’s founding documents as “Society needs more liberally-educated persons with technical backgrounds” – have not. Thus, as the program celebrates its 50 years of educating sociotechnical citizens, and as society grapples with all-consuming sociotechnical problems – climate change, systemic racism, and pandemic spread and disruption – we are endeavoring to understand how our alumni see themselves and how their sociotechnical education has contributed to their identities and paths.
In previous work, the authors have documented the history of the program, its current status, its core curriculum, and the impacts on students in terms of sociotechnical thinking and diversity. It is clear from this work that students approaching graduation do view themselves as sociotechnical thinkers. This analysis also shows that graduates are more diverse in terms of gender than those in other engineering programs on our campus, and more racially/ethnically diverse than both students in other engineering programs and students as a whole at our institution. We also have previously expressed concerns about the potential masking and ghetto-ization effects of this distribution, while at the same time celebrating the diverse perspectives and richness this brings to classes and therefore the experiences of the students in those classes.
This paper looks at why the program is successful in developing sociotechnical thinking and in attracting such a diverse group of students to the major and classes. We are investigating alumni perspectives on their experiences in the program as undergraduates and how those experiences have shaped their thinking about themselves, their citizenship, and their careers. The paper will summarize and synthesize the results of alumni surveys and focus groups to provide insights. These insights will provide faculty at our own and other institutions with lessons that will be useful in considering how to better educate students to be socio-technical thinkers while broadening participation in engineering.
Rossmann, J. S., & Sanford, K. L., & Cohen, B. (2021, July), "Asking ‘why’ instead of ‘how’": Outcomes of an interdisciplinary Degree Program in Engineering Studies Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36527
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