June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Design in Engineering Education
12.437.1 - 12.437.11
Curriculum Enhancement to Promote Environmental Awareness among Engineers
The University of Calgary Schulich School of Engineering has introduced a set of first year design projects aimed at preparing engineering students to be both technically capable and conscious of the impacts of their decisions. The goal is to address the need for today's engineers to work effectively in global environments where technical solutions must integrate social, cultural and environmental concerns.
The curriculum enhancement projects seek to teach the students the fundamentals of engineering design early (first three weeks) in the engineering education process with an emphasis on environmental and socio-cultural impact to develop socially conscious engineers with a strong grounding in the basics of engineers design methods. This will develop a new generation of engineers with a skill set that includes an understanding of the social, cultural and environmental impacts of their decisions and a comprehension of how these concepts are firmly ingrained in the creative problem solving process.
The curriculum enhancement projects also seek to quantitatively and qualitatively measure the student’s retention, enthusiasm and knowledge of the subject as a short term longitudinal study (4 months). This has been accomplished by providing the students with a small set of open-ended questions at the completion of the design projects.
Engineering and the social, cultural, and environmental considerations
Course coordinators for the first-year engineering design program at the University of Calgary (U of C) believe that by introducing problem solving techniques early in the engineering education process students will be influenced throughout their careers. This is critical as students are shaped by the behaviors of their engineering educators in both their approach to design, and integration with the environment 4,5. Introducing problem solving together with social and cultural awareness is particularly important as engineers are increasingly employed by large multinational corporations 3. Thus there is a need for engineers who can interact with the public worldwide as well as provide the most appropriate solution 8,3. Engineering students discover too soon that the roots of a problem are often much broader than the perceived problem. Providing an appropriate solution is very challenging and requires engineers who are guided by their “ethics and are able to bridge the gaps between cultures and between people and technology”1.
The U of C has implemented this new curriculum enhancement in conjunction with EWB to create engineers who will have “the ability to integrate widely separate areas of knowledge, as environmental problems are rarely one dimensional” 1. This is important because in the last 50 years there has been a shift which is reshaping the engineering profession. Engineers now must be “responsible stewards rather than negligent trustees of the environment” 8. Instead of being seen “both as problem-causers and problem-solvers,” as said by J. M. N. Van Kasteren.
Armitage, G., & du Plessix, P., & Chomistek, K., & Caswell, D., & Johnston, C., & Nazir, M., & Eggermont, M., & Douglas, D., & Knecht, B. (2007, June), Curriculum Enhancement To Promote Environmental Awareness Among Engineers Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2298
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