July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Engineering challenges are increasingly complex, mired in characteristics Weber has described as the “social mess” – little agreement on problem definition, multiple interconnected problems, consequences difficult to imagine, let alone characterize, and riddled with ideological, political, and cultural conflict. Climate change looms large as an example of a social mess that engineers will need new capacities to effectively confront.
The capacities engineers need include many attributes long discussed within the Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division of ASEE,and echoed in the NAE Engineer of 2020 report at the turn of this century: creativity, leadership, communication, lifelong learning, ethics, resiliency, and flexibility. There is increasing recognition that we additionally need to grow our capacity for holistic systems (or systems-of-systems) thinking, data-informed decision-making, transdisciplinarity and epistemic humility, critical understandings of power relations in organizations and society, and affective components of ethics, leadership and change agency, community-building, communications, and lifelong learning -- all in addition to specific technological breakthroughs and enabling technologies to reconfigure essential sociotechnical systems.
As we seek to instill these capacities, we are also confronting an engineering education ecosystem mired with obstacles and inequities. We need to build infrastructure that equitably resources learning, cultivates interest, and ensures flexible access across lines of race, class, gender, ability, and other categories, smoothing transition points from two-year colleges, military service, work in the trades, and life events that too often prevent individuals from pursuing engineering.
In the specific context of a project focused on preparing an engineering workforce that can realize roadway electrification and grid decarbonization for a sustainable transportation infrastructure, we developed a strategic agenda for instilling cross-disciplinary capacities and creating a smooth interconnected system of pathways through engineering.
This paper discusses the structural changes needed in our educational infrastructure and the curricular and pedagogical changes required for engineering formation to address sustainability challenges in the future. We identify areas for growth and a set of strategic actions in pre-college, undergraduate, graduate, and professional education to realize our vision for educating holistic and diverse engineers who are prepared to confront sustainability challenges.
Riley, D. M., & Clawson, R. A., & Maksimovic, D., & Myers, B. A., & Santiago, I., & Stites, N. A., & Taylor, J. L. (2021, July), Developing Engineering Formation Systems for Sustainability Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36942
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