Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Humanitarian and Sustainability in a Global Engineering Context
Opportunities to participate in international engagement experiences broaden students’ perspectives and perceptions of real world problems. A strong sense of “global engineering identity” can emerge when students are part of international teams that consider solutions to humanitarian challenges. To encourage retention in engineering among undergraduate and graduate students from underrepresented groups, a multi-campus team of faculty and administrators developed a plan expose students to humanitarian engineering perspectives within global contexts. Through a federally-funded program, the leaders took students to international conferences that fostered global team-based approaches to the National Academy of Engineering’s (NAE) 14 Grand Challenges, and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Students attended international conferences on three continents in 2016 and 2017. The conferences introduced students to the NAE’s Grand Challenges in plenary sessions, and the SDGs in smaller group sessions, with a charge to transform the world. Students from across the globe developed action plans to potentially address problems within their communities. Students were encouraged to consider real-life scenarios of their choice that could be further refined and potentially implemented upon return to their home countries. The structure of the small group sessions allowed students to be members of an international team, agree upon a problem to tackle, conduct early research, and propose a concrete path toward addressing one of the SDGs. Data for this project was collected through crowd-sourcing, using online student reflections. Students blogged throughout a one-week period for each of three conferences. There were 28 respondents, across the three events. Content analysis was used to disaggregate data and group similarities. Data showed that the students from the federally-funded delegation demonstrated a clear need to assist the global community. They were particularly interested in working on problems related to industry innovation, infrastructure, gender equality, sustainable cities, and communities. Students realized that approaches to solutions could not be centralized to their own country, and that their proposals had to be feasible and logical for other parts of the world. As an example, challenges with bringing clean water to remote regions and approaches to sanitation required a need to take time to learn from peers from other countries. Students were asked to provide ubiquitous solutions to the problems. They were asked to consider themselves as part of the respective communities as a means of assessing the practicality of potential approaches. Students’ perspectives changed throughout the course of the conference, as they reflected on their ability to bring global contexts to their research. After participating in these conferences, students experienced a greater awareness of sustainability. They were also inspired to experience different cultures, cultivating greater appreciation for the need to engage with the international community when sharing research. The exposure to humanitarian engineering perspectives influenced global STEM identity, while appreciating disciplines outside of engineering, e.g, psychology, social behaviors. Further, students learned that strides can be made toward solving global problems when collaborations and relationships are formed and fostered.
Tull, R. G., & Hester, S., & Medina, Y., & Williams, D. N., & Medina, H. E., & Aparaka, E. T. (2018, June), Developing Humanitarian Engineering Perspectives Among Underrepresented Scholars Through Engagement with the Sustainable Development Goals in Global Contexts Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30307
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