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Global Engineering: What do We Mean by It and How are We Preparing our Students for It?

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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

Flexible Engineering Curricula

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Leland Giovannelli University of Colorado, Boulder

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Dr. Giovannelli, Director of the Herbst Program of Humanities, has taught literature and philosophy seminars to engineers at CU Boulder since 1989. She has also designed and taught multiple courses at the intersection of STEM and Humanities/Social Science, including Engineering in History, The History of Modern Science, and The History of Western Medicine. All of her courses use texts from many disciplines, nations, and eras to bring students to self-knowledge through encounters with the Other. (This is most obvious in her latest new course, A Global State of Mind.) Whatever the subject, her courses are grounded in accountability--to the text, to oneself, and to one's fellows.

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Robyn Sandekian University of Colorado, Boulder

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Robyn Sandekian is the Managing Director of the Mortenson Center in Engineering for Developing Communities (MCEDC) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder). She joined the Engineering for Developing Communities Program (now known as the Mortenson Center) in spring 2004, just as the first EDC graduate track was approved. With MCEDC, her main duties have included student advising and academic program development. Recently, she co-developed the curriculum for the new Minor in Global Engineering offered by the CU Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science starting in fall 2016.

Ms. Sandekian earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at CU Boulder, a Specialist in Education (Ed. S.) degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Northern Colorado, and expects to earn her Ph.D. in the Higher Education Student Affairs Leadership program from the University of Northern Colorado in December 2017.

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At the University of Colorado Boulder, we have interpreted “global engineering” to mean engineering practiced in the following way:

1. with forethought of its far-reaching consequences, both physical and social, 2. with an appreciation of international colleagues and/or in international offices, and 3. with cultural sensitivity, both for pleasant interactions and for effective outcomes.

To prepare our graduates for this kind of engineering, the College of Engineering and Applied Science has launched a new undergraduate minor in Global Engineering. The minor includes a gateway course in cultural awareness; elective courses in foreign culture and language; a suitable technical elective; and a ‘global experience,’ typically involving an international or intercultural study or work-project.

The 3-credit hour gateway course, A Global State of Mind, seeks to impart a sense of global awareness, but not by inviting students to be astonished at foreign cultural practices. Rather, this interactive lecture course uses carefully-chosen short texts to help students gain perspective on all cultural practices, including their own. The texts come from philosophy, literature, politics, economics, religion, and the arts; these are supplemented by numerous secondary sources.

The gateway course serves an important function because the rest of the Global Engineering Minor is extremely flexible—as it should be—to accommodate the varying interests of our students. By uniting Global Engineering Minor students in one course, we hope to help them begin conversations that they can continue not only through college, but also into their careers.

Giovannelli, L., & Sandekian, R. (2017, June), Global Engineering: What do We Mean by It and How are We Preparing our Students for It? Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28410

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