June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
24.516.1 - 24.516.11
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. https://peer.asee.org/20407
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