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Engineering Education: Moving toward a Contemplative Service Paradigm

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Socio-Technical Issues in Engineering

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


George D. Catalano Binghamton University

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Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Binghamton University
Previously member of the faculty at U.S. Military Academy and Louisiana State University.
Two time Fullbright Scholar -- Italy and Germany.

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The present work seeks to develop a new paradigm for engineering education, one located at the interstitial layer between the service learning and contemplative pedagogies. From service learning, we shall borrow the important notion of engineering by its very nature as a service profession embedded in a community while from contemplative theory, we shall borrow the notions of the trust and the ability to listening to the often muted voices found in a community. Each pedagogy holds great promise for improvement over the traditional method found in an overwhelming majority of the engineering classrooms. At the intersection of the two, an even richer approach to teaching engineering can be identified and explored. Further exploring contemplative pedagogy, it involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight. Contemplation fosters additional ways of knowing that complement the rational methods of traditional higher education. This cultivation is the aim of contemplative pedagogy, a paradigm of teaching that includes methods designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.

The new paradigm is implemented in the senior level capstone design course sequence. Projects undertaken by student design teams are primarily suggested by members of local and regional non-profit and not for profit agencies that focus on meeting the needs of residents with various physical, mental and emotional challenges. Results are assessed using a range of different tools. A team of faculty and professional engineers judges the technical quality of the designs. A qualitative method was used to judge the effectiveness of the learning experience for the students. Client feedback was obtained through a series of exit interviews

Catalano, G. D. (2016, June), Engineering Education: Moving toward a Contemplative Service Paradigm Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26644

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