Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Community Engagement Division
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. https://peer.asee.org/30384
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