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Exploring Engineering in China in a Global and Societal Context

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2013 ASEE International Forum


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 22, 2013

Start Date

June 22, 2013

End Date

June 22, 2013

Conference Session

Reception & Poster Session

Tagged Topic

ASEE International Forum

Page Count


Page Numbers

21.25.1 - 21.25.9



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Paper Authors


Keith W Buffinton Bucknell University

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Keith W. Buffinton is Dean of the College of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Bucknell University. He received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts and his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford. Following his graduate studies, he worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Institute for Mechanics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. From 2001 through 2004 he served as co-director of Bucknell's Institute for Leadership in Technology and Management and from 2003 through 2007 as Associate Dean of the College of Engineering. In 2003 he received Bucknell’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Prof. Buffinton’s scholarly interests range across the areas of multibody dynamics, nonlinear control, mechanical design, systems thinking, entrepreneurship, engineering management education, and his primary research focus, the dynamics and control of robotic systems. He has been the recipient of external grants from a number of funding agencies including the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Ben Franklin Technology Center of Pennsylvania, and most recently the Kern Family Foundation. As Dean of Engineering, Prof. Buffinton has particularly sought to enhance support for students from under-resourced backgrounds as well as to promote the creation of an Ecology of Entrepreneurship by becoming part of the Kern Entrepreneurship Education Network. Prof. Buffinton is a member of the Executive Board of the ASEE Engineering Deans Council and Co-Chair of the ASEE EDC Undergraduate Experience Committee.

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Xiannong Meng Bucknell University

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XIANNONG MENG is a Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Computer Science at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. His research interests include distributed computing, data mining, intelligent Web search, operating systems and computer networks. He received his Ph.D. in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

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Margot A Vigeant Bucknell University

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Exploring Engineering in China in a Global and Societal Context AbstractWe discuss in this paper our experiences and assess the outcomes of a three-week long course insummer 2012 in which we took a group of 22 engineering students of various majors to China.We share our experiences and thoughts in working through the logistics and academics whenpreparing such a course, in conducting the course activities in China, and in assessing theoutcomes of the course.It is becoming increasingly critical for American engineering students to have experiences or anawareness of many of the global and societal issues related to engineering. The College ofEngineering of Bucknell University established a course called “ENGR 290: Engineering in aGlobal and Societal Context” in 2004 to address this aspect of the curriculum. The format of thecourse is based on three weeks of travel in a foreign country, typically at the beginning of thesummer (mid-May through early June), so students can continue other scheduled summeractivities after the course. Faculty members in groups of two or three take 20 to 30 engineeringstudents to different countries to examine various aspects of engineering and to experience theculture and life in that country. In past years, ENGR 290 has taken students to Switzerland,England, Scandinavia, Argentina, and Brazil.In summer of 2012, three faculty members took a group of 22 engineering students to China for asession of ENGR 290. During the course we visited a number of international companiesincluding DuPont, Air Products, IBM, Lenovo, HP, AECOM, and GE, some local Chinese-owned companies, well-known Chinese engineering sites such as the Three Gorges Dam, andcultural attractions with significant engineering elements such as the Great Wall, Forbidden City,Beijing National Aquatics Center (Water Cube), Beijing National Stadium (Bird’s Nest),National Center for the Performing Arts (China), and the Terracotta Warriors. We also visitedtwo Chinese universities, Southeast University in Nanjing and the University of ElectronicScience and Technology in China in Chengdu. Before each of these visits, a student team studiedthe cultural, engineering, and other important aspects of the site or company and reported to theentire group to give an overview of what is to be visited. During the visit, students attendedpresentations made by the company or the university, many of which included a question-and-answer session, or listened to stories about a cultural attraction by a tour guide. After the visit,students debriefed the visit in a group meeting and each wrote thoughts and reflections in theircourse journals. At the end of the course, each student was required to write a summary paper todiscuss what they learned and to reflect on what they experienced during the course. In additionto the benefit of experiencing engineering in a different culture, students were also able to makeconnections with Bucknell alumni who currently work in various parts of China. The courseassessment is based on student’s participation, the daily journals, the team presentations, and theindividual final reflection paper.Students, as well as the faculty members, gained a deeper understanding of engineering in adifferent culture. We gained an appreciation for more diverse ways of thinking and conductingengineering. We are better prepared to work with engineers in other countries and to engage inengineering projects that may involve different cultural backgrounds.

Buffinton, K. W., & Meng, X., & Vigeant, M. A. (2013, June), Exploring Engineering in China in a Global and Societal Context Paper presented at 2013 ASEE International Forum, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--17230

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