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Engineering Design For Human Needs: Expanding The Scope Of Engineering Senior Design

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Teams and Teamwork in Design II / Design for Special Services

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.622.1 - 12.622.13



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Paper Authors


Susan Conry Clarkson University

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Dr. Conry is a faculty member in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Clarkson University. She obtained her B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees at Rice University. Her interests include engineering education, multiagent systems, and parallel and distributed systems. Dr. Conry teaches in a variety of areas in computer engineering and software engineering.

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

Engineering Design for Human Needs: Expanding the Scope of Engineering Senior Design


The culminating design experience in engineering curricula is usually intended to provide a framework within which the emerging engineer can draw upon an acquired base of knowledge in his or her discipline to solve an open ended problem in that discipline or in a multidisciplinary context requiring contributions from that discipline. In this paper, we show how the culminating design experience can be framed so as to expand the scope of its contribution in the education of engineering students. We describe a pedagogical framework within which educational outcomes associated with multidisciplinary activity, legal, ethical, and professional responsibilities, and the impact of engineering solutions on society can be emphasized. Drawing upon student experiences in design of systems for use by persons with developmental or cognitive disabilities, for persons studying human skeletal structures, and for persons with certain neurological dysfunction, this paper also identifies and illustrates ways of leading students to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a broader social context.


ABET accredited programs in engineering must engage students in a “major design experience based on the knowledge and skills acquired in earlier course work and incorporating appropriate engineering standards and multiple realistic constraints”1. The educational program must also be one in which students attain a number of demonstrable outcomes, specifically those outlined in the Criteria for Accrediting Engineering Programs, Criterion 3 (a) – (k)1. Most programs have little difficulty demonstrating some of these outcomes. On the other hand, several of these required outcomes are more difficult to demonstrate.

In this paper, we outline a pedagogical framework for the culminating design experience that also facilitates student attainment of the following Criterion 3 outcomes:

(c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability (d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams (f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context (j) a knowledge of contemporary issues

Thus our desired learning outcomes for the engineering senior design experience are extended beyond those that are required of the culminating design experience and are intended to encompass a broader range of expectations and engage the students in activities that are truly directed towards development of an understanding that technology must serve humanity.

Conry, S. (2007, June), Engineering Design For Human Needs: Expanding The Scope Of Engineering Senior Design Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2527

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