Asee peer logo

Engineers Can Interact in a Liberal Arts World

Download Paper |


2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Integrating Engineering & Liberal Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.516.1 - 24.516.11



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Pete Hylton Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis

visit author page

Pete Hylton is an Assistant Professor at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). He earned his B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, M.S degrees from Purdue University (Mechanical Engienering) and IUPUI (Applied mathematics) and Ed.D. from Grand Canyon University (Organizational Leadership). Dr. Hylton is currently the Director of Motorsports Engineering at IUPUI and his interests include motorsports safety, automotive performance, technical risk management, high speed dynamics, program management and organizational leadership.

visit author page

author page

Wendy Otoupal-Hylton IUPUI

Download Paper |


Engineers Can Interact in a Liberal Arts WorldSometimes it seems, on the university campus, that the distance between the engineering realmand the liberal arts realm is light-years, not the two blocks between their separate buildings. Thisfeeling is fostered by the completely different ways that faculty from the two arenas look atthings, the different types of problems they face, and the different ways that they communicate.Engineers often view their liberal arts counterparts as too “touchy-feely.” This likely derivesfrom the way engineers quantify everything in facts, figures, and formulas, rather than describingthe world in terms of feelings and flocculent descriptions. On the other hand, the non-engineersoften see their more scientific colleagues as overly rigid and regulated, missing out on theromance and reverence found by getting in touch with the universe through one’s subjectivesenses. These barriers are best broken down either by examining ways to find a common groundto share, or by stepping outside one’s traditional comfort zone, and entering the other camp’sterritory to communicate with them on their terms.This paper will examine how one engineering education program has used both approaches tobuild new relationships, and demonstrate the ability of engineers and non-engineers to relate toeach other. The creation of parallel programs, one in the School of Engineering and Technologyand one in the School of Liberal Arts, both supporting a common industry, showed how facultyfrom the two programs could work together for the advancement of both. The second approachinvolved engineering faculty stepping outside their normal zone of activity, and becominginvolved in the Spirit and Place Festival, normally the purview of departments more stronglyaligned with social, cultural, and religious affairs. The success of this foray into topics notnormally broached by engineers, offered horizon broadening opportunities for parties from bothsides to better understand the other, increasing the likelihood of more future collaborations.

Hylton, P., & Otoupal-Hylton, W. (2014, June), Engineers Can Interact in a Liberal Arts World Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20407

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2014 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015