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Contextualizing a New General Engineering Curriculum in the Liberal Arts

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Flexible Engineering Curricula

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Diana A. Chen University of San Diego Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Diana A. Chen is an Assistant Professor of General Engineering at the University of San Diego. She joined the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering in 2016. Her research interests are in areas of sustainable design, including biomimicry and adaptability in structural, city, and regional applications. She earned her MS and PhD in Civil Engineering from Clemson University, and her BS in Engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

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Gordon D. Hoople University of San Diego Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Gordon D. Hoople is an assistant professor of general engineering at the University of San Diego. His research interests lie in microfluidics, rapid prototyping, genomics, engineering ethics, and engineering education. He earned his MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from University of California, Berkeley and a BS in engineering from Harvey Mudd College.

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Since its founding several decades ago, our School of Engineering has offered a BS/BA degree with an extensive liberal arts component. With support from a National Science Foundation IUSE/PFE: Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments (IUSE/PFE: RED) grant, we are now integrating the liberal arts directly into our engineering courses in a new general engineering curriculum that reframes traditional engineering content around its broader societal contexts. Rather than focus on specific disciplinary knowledge students might need for a particular career, we are developing a curriculum focused on strengthening the critical skills common across engineering disciplines, such as design, analytical problem-solving, communication, and the ability to make interdisciplinary connections. In addition, we recognize that graduates must understand the profound social responsibility that comes with being an engineer. In alignment with the mission of our Catholic university, we are infusing our curriculum with a humanistic approach to engineering by orienting the core of our department around social justice. We plan to educate engineers that are able to integrate the appropriate perspective -- be it global, local, environmental, or social -- into the engineering decision-making process. In this paper, we describe the founding of our new department and describe the institutional context that made it possible. We also lay out our proposed curricular structure and discuss several courses currently under development.

Chen, D. A., & Hoople, G. D. (2017, June), Contextualizing a New General Engineering Curriculum in the Liberal Arts Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28073

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