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Engineering for Non-Engineers: Where We Stand at Colleges and Universities

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Dimensions of Engineering Literacy and Engineering in General Education

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

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Paper Authors


John W Blake PE Austin Peay State University

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John Blake is a Professor of Engineering Technology at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Tennessee. He teaches major courses ranging from the introductory course for new students through upper level courses in problem solving and in mechanical engineering technology. He has also taught courses on engineering and technology for non-majors.

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John Krupczak Jr Hope College

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Professor of Engineering, Hope College, Holland, Michigan. Former Chair of the ASEE Technological Literacy Division; Former Chair of the ASEE Liberal Education Division; Senior Fellow CASEE, National Academy of Engineering, 2008-2010; Program Officer, National Science Foundation, Division of Undergraduate Education 2013-2016.

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Engineering for non-engineers is being taught successfully at the college level. While this has been done at individual institutions and there is a large community of interest, the practice has not become widespread. Based on the experiences of people who have taught these courses, issues keeping engineering from becoming part of every college student’s education include finding a place for engineering in the general core curriculum, finding faculty to teach the course, rewards for faculty, resources, and course materials. Of these, the critical issue is finding a place in the curriculum. Pressure from outside the academic community is needed to drive changes in university core requirements.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a push came from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to make it a national priority to increase the technological literacy of the general public in the United States. Without much fanfare or attention, people at colleges and universities across the United States and beyond have been engaged in teaching non-engineers about engineering for many years. Under different names, people have developed programs ranging from individual courses to minors and even graduate level programs in the belief that all people should know more about engineering and the technology that engineers create and manage.

To be prepared for the future, people need to know something about engineering. While good models have been developed for teaching people about these subjects, it has not become part of the general core curriculum at the college level. This paper will discuss barriers that must be overcome for the practice of teaching every student about engineering widespread.

Blake, J. W., & Krupczak, J. (2017, June), Engineering for Non-Engineers: Where We Stand at Colleges and Universities Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28254

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