June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
Community Engagement Division
23.724.1 - 23.724.11
In their own words: How engineering students view themselves as future engineers in societyAs the engineering profession advances, there is a recognition that engineers must interact acrossdisciplinary and cultural boundaries to successfully address complex problems. Directly orindirectly, an engineer’s work affects society and therefore it is critical that they give fullconsideration to those effects throughout the design process. The Engineering AccreditationCommission of ABET recognizes this in Criterion 3.h stating that students should possess “thebroad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global,economic, environmental, and societal context.” With the profession and engineering educatorspushing towards this goal, it seems critical to talk with students to find out how they view theengineering profession in society and, more specifically, how they see their roles, as futureengineers, in society.Twenty-five students representing Civil, Environmental, Mechanical, and AerospaceEngineering, mostly Juniors, Seniors and Graduate students, were engaged in conversationsaround their views of social responsibility and the role of engineering in society. Theseinterviews lasted 30-60 minutes and were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using emergentcoding consistent with ethnographic methods. Three different interview methods were used toelicit conversation; semi-structured interviews, interviews focused on questions from a surveyabout attitudes of personal and professional responsibility, and finally a variation of RappaportTimelines used to examine life events which students identified as formative for their views ofengineering and society. This paper discusses the main themes that emerged from theseinterviews, namely students’ perspectives on three key relationships: 1) themselves with society,2) engineering with society, and 3) themselves with engineering. Preliminary analysis highlightsa wide range of beliefs including minimalist perspectives of not intentionally harming people, todeeply held beliefs of responsibility due to one’s privilege. Students also appear to credithumanities courses and extracurricular activities more often as influencing their beliefs thanengineering courses.
Canney, N. E., & Bowling, T., & Bielefeldt, A. R. (2013, June), In their own words: Engineering students’ views on the relationship between the engineering profession and society Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/19738
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