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Development Of Engineering Related Minors For Non Engineering Students

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Teaching Technological Literacy - College Courses and Minors

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.418.1 - 15.418.12



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Paper Authors


John Krupczak Hope College

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Professor of Engineering, Hope College.
CASEE Senior Fellow, National Academy of Engineering

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Mani Mina Iowa State University

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High Speed Systems Engineering Laboratory,
Director of Minor in Engineering Studies (MES) Program at Iowa State University

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Robert J. Gustafson Ohio State University

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Honda Professor for Engineering Education and Professor, Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and Director, Engineering Education Innovation Center

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James Young Rice University

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Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of Engineering-Related Minors for Non-Engineering Students


Many Americans lack even a rudimentary understanding of the principles underlying the technology essential for daily life. Engineering concepts are pervasive in decision making within industry, government, education, and health care, yet most decisions in these sectors are made by people with little or no formal engineering education. This research will develop minors to be offered by engineering units as an approach to developing technological competence in non- engineers. A collaboration between Iowa State University, Ohio State University, Hope College, and Rice University is building on the promising results achieved in the Minor in Engineering Studies Program at Iowa State. The project goal is to develop the concepts and resources to support model minors which can be adopted efficiently and widely within American higher education. To facilitate adoption by other institutions, flexibility is a key objective of the intended guidelines. Since the appropriateness of using the name engineering in the context of a minor is subject to debate, the specific name of minor should be part of that flexibility. These degrees do not focus on teaching specific engineering technical content but on teaching students how to think like an engineer. The minor aims to develop the broad understanding and practical technological competence outlined by the National Academy of Engineering in reports such as Technically Speaking. Thus decoupled from the engineering major, the Minor in Engineering Studies at Iowa has attracted students majoring in business, communications, journalism, and design. Minors provide a recognized credential deemed attractive by many students. This work will develop a set of Technological Literacy Objectives and Outcomes for such a minor. These outcomes will be similar to the ABET a-k outcomes that are used for engineering degrees, but will be focused on developing technologically literate citizens. The anticipated use of a standard set of outcomes rather than a standard series of courses, will allow flexibility for each institution to develop a minor or minors that is best suited to its local conditions, similar to the way engineering departments meet the ABET a-k requirements for engineering degrees.


The quality of life and economic prosperity of the over 300 million residents of the United States is dependent on the development and use of technology. This includes issues ranging from formulation and implementation of energy policies to telecommunications. Educating the public with essential information about technology and technological literacy requires a fresh look at our efforts in undergraduate education. Engineering programs at all levels must acknowledge responsibility for educating non-engineers about technology 1–11. Engineering concepts are pervasive in decision making within industry, government, education, and health care, yet most decisions in these sectors are made by persons with little or no formal engineering education. It is apparent that engineering programs have not been successful in meeting the technological literacy needs of the non-engineering population.

The structure of our institutions of higher education has made it difficult for non-engineers to develop any depth of understanding about engineering and technology. The engineering major has an elaborate curriculum, requires substantial prerequisite courses, and is a difficult pursuit to

Krupczak, J., & Mina, M., & Gustafson, R. J., & Young, J. (2010, June), Development Of Engineering Related Minors For Non Engineering Students Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16294

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