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Exploring Connections Between Engineering And Human Spirituality

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Engineering Ethics Outside the Classroom

Tagged Division

Engineering Ethics

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.563.1 - 15.563.15



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Paper Authors


Dominic Halsmer Oral Roberts University

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Dominic M. Halsmer is the Dean of the School of Science and Engineering at Oral Roberts University. He has been teaching engineering courses there for 18 years, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Oklahoma. He received BS and MS Degrees in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and 1986, and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA in 1992. He is currently pursuing an MA in Biblical Literature from Oral Roberts University. His current research interests involve contributions from the field of engineering to the current science/theology discussion, and the preparation of scientists and engineers for missions work within technical communities.

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Elliott Butay Oral Roberts University

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Ben Hase Oral Roberts University

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Sean McDonough Oral Roberts University

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Taylor Tryon Oral Roberts University

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Joshua Weed Oral Roberts University

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

Exploring Connections between Engineering and Human Spirituality


The wealth of knowledge and wisdom within a diverse university community provides a rich and fertile setting for students to explore connections between their chosen discipline and their own spirituality. Multidisciplinary teams of undergraduate students and faculty explore, and wrestle with, the connections between science/engineering and spirituality as they endeavor to become whole persons. Engineering, science, and theology students team up to investigate and assess evidence of purpose from findings in science and engineering. They apply reverse engineering techniques to natural systems in an effort to assess the potential for design recovery. Psychology students help to provide a better understanding of the human condition and the role of perceived affordances in establishing purpose. Anecdotal and survey evidence suggests that undergraduate students find such interdisciplinary studies to be interesting, motivating and beneficial for solidifying personal meaning and purpose. What better place than in higher education to address such monumental and multi-faceted questions? These are the issues that students want to discuss, since the answers they uncover play a significant role in shaping and motivating their future careers and lives. The fields of science and engineering have a huge role to play in this discussion, but they need other disciplines to join them at the table. Engineering students in particular are well equipped to address such big questions, but they benefit greatly from dialogue with students and faculty in other areas. If the goal of higher education is to produce well-rounded and responsible professionals, then institutions should seriously consider addressing the issue of human spirituality as it relates to each student’s field of study. This article presents one such perspective for the field of engineering.

The need for whole person graduates in science and engineering

During the summer of 2009, Sam Schurman, former Chancellor of the University of Minnesota Morris and currently Interim Dean of the Faculty at the University of North Carolina Asheville, delivered a powerful lecture entitled, “Seeing the Light: Reflections on Honors at Faith-based Colleges from a ‘Sympathetic Outsider’” at the Council on Christian Colleges and Universities Honors Workshop. During this lecture, he made a radical suggestion: that we “reopen the doors of higher learning to the human spirit.” He reiterates this point in his latest book, Seeing the Light: Religious Colleges in Twenty- First-Century America1 where he argues that there is much to be learned by the secular academy from such institutions. Many in higher education are echoing this sentiment.

In a recent article, Alexander Astin, Founding Director of the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, argues that spirituality deserves a central place in higher education. In describing what he means by “spirituality,” he writes that, “…spirituality has to do with the values that we hold most dear, our sense of who we are and where we come from, our beliefs about why we are here – the meaning and purpose that we see in our work and our life – and our sense of connectedness to each other and to the world around us.” Based on this definition of spirituality, it is hard to imagine anyone who would not be interested in

Halsmer, D., & Butay, E., & Hase, B., & McDonough, S., & Tryon, T., & Weed, J. (2010, June), Exploring Connections Between Engineering And Human Spirituality Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16831

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: © 2010 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