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Engagement in Practice: Engineering for Social Change Course in Mechanical Engineering

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engagement In Practice: Integrating Community Engagement into Engineering Curricula

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Maria C. Sanchez University of Maryland College Park

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Dr. Maria C. Sanchez is currently an Assistant Research Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, College Park working in the Center for Engineering Concepts Development (CECD). Previously she was a faculty member at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and California State University, Fresno. She received her M.S. and Ph.D.  degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and her B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota, Colombia. Her research interests include Engineering for Social Change and accessibility of under-represented groups to engineering education.

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Dylan Anthony Hazelwood University of Maryland, College Park

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Dylan A. Hazelwood is the Assistant Director of the Center for Engineering Concepts Development, in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland. He received a Bachelor’s Degree of Applied Computing from the University of Tasmania, Australia. He has expertise in information technology systems and development. He headed up the information technology group for the Department of Mechanical Engineering and was involved in information technology infrastructure development and management, high performance computing cluster development and implementation as well as establishing distance learning and other educational technologies. He also worked with the Energetics Technology Center in Southern Maryland in the areas of informatics and IT management. Since joining CECD he has continued to work on energetics informatics, rare earth materials research and STEM program analysis. He co-authored the 2012 book Rare Earth Materials: Insights and Concerns, the 2013 book S&T Revitalization: A New Look and the 2016 book Engineering for Social Change: Engineering is Not Just Engineering. He has been the course manager for CECD’s Engineering for Social Change course since its inception, and in 2016 spearheaded an effort with the College of Southern Maryland to support a successful pilot program of a student-led social entrepreneurship course in the Business and Management Division.

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Dave K. Anand University of Maryland, College Park

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This paper describes the development and implementation of the engineering course titled Engineering for Social Change in the Mechanical Engineering Department. The course was devised by a faculty member who, after years of teaching traditional engineering courses, recognized the importance of developing an understanding and appreciation of the social change that engineering creates. The course intends to inspire students to use their technical skills and mindset to practice socially-conscious entrepreneurship and to pursue ideas that could make a difference in their immediate community.

The course, already in its fourth iteration, addresses key topics such as the unintended consequences of technology, entrepreneurship, innovation, teamwork, decision-making, and philanthropic investment. Invited experts on these topics act as guest lecturers during the semester and activities are developed to reinforce the concepts they present. A major component of the course is a semester long project in which students investigate the efforts of non-profit organizations working towards the mitigation of the unintended consequences of technology. At the end of the semester, the class as a whole selects one of the non-profit organizations to receive the “Neilom Engineering for Social Change Grant” of $10,000, awarded by the Neilom Foundation. This unique approach gives students the opportunity to make an impact in their communities by allowing philanthropy and non-profit organizations activities to act as catalysts.

It is intended that in pursuing this course, students will explore the possibilities of putting their developing engineering skills to use in ways that benefit humanity. More specifically, it is expected that students taking the course will:

• Understand the interaction between engineering, social change and philanthropy, and how organizations engage in these activities. • Articulate their view and philosophy of engineering as it creates social change and unintended consequences. • Practice the art of multi-disciplinary optimization in an environment with severe cost restraints to support underfunded projects of significant social value.

At the end of the semester students are required to complete a survey to provide feedback about the course. In addition, as part of their overall grade, the students are required to maintain a blog to log their impressions of the lectures and project. A more formal assessment plan to measure the achievement of the goals above is currently in development by the authors.

Sanchez, M. C., & Hazelwood, D. A., & Anand, D. K. (2018, June), Engagement in Practice: Engineering for Social Change Course in Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30384

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