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Incorporating Futures Thinking in a Civil Engineering Cornerstone Course

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Civil Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

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Paper Authors


Mei-Mei Song Tamkang University

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Mei-Mei Song is an Assistant Professor in the Graduate Institute of Futures Studies and the Director of the Center for Futures Intelligence and Research (C-FAR) at Tamkang University in Taiwan. Dr. Song’s teaching and research interests are in futures thinking and futures education. One of her recent research interests focuses on incorporating futures thinking into civil engineering education. She earned her M.A. and Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University and was the awardee of Jan Lee Martin Scholarship for Young Futurists in 2012.

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Shang-Hsien (Patrick) Hsieh National Taiwan University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Hsieh is a Professor in the Computer-Aided Engineering Division of Department of Civil Engineering at National Taiwan University (NTU), Taipei, Taiwan. He is currently serving as Director of the Research Center for Building & Infrastructure Information Modeling and Management in NTU’s Department of Civil Engineering. He is a member of Board of Directors of the International Society for Computing in Civil and Building Engineering Since 1999 and served as the society’s President from 2006 to 2008. He has a wide range of research interests, including engineering & construction simulations, engineering information & knowledge management systems, engineering education, parallel and distributed engineering computing, earthquake engineering and structural dynamics, and object-oriented software development.

Dr. Hsieh received his B.S. in Civil Engineering in 1985 from NTU, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University, U.S.A. in 1990 and 1993, respectively. From 1993 to 1995, he worked as a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the School of Civil Engineering at Purdue University, U.S.A. He joined the Department of Civil Engineering at NTU in 1995 and had since served NTU as the Chief of Extracurricular Activities Section in Office of Student Affairs, Vice-Chairman of Department of Civil Engineering, and Deputy Dean for Office of International Affairs.

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The importance of future civil engineering students’ capacity to design for the future should go without saying. Civil engineering structures are meant to stand for decades, if not hundreds or even thousands of years, and are to be utilized by future generations. How do civil engineers of the present envision the wants and needs of future generations, especially in this fast-changing world where values often shift rapidly? How do civil engineers safeguard the rights of future generations while fulfilling the wants and needs of the present? How do structural designs of today meet the different needs of the stakeholders in the future? How do we prioritize the needs of the natural environment while engaging in the designs of construction projects now? We contend that these are the key questions related to the future that ought to be embedded in civil engineering curriculum.

This paper describes the ongoing efforts and the preliminary results of incorporating futures thinking in a Cornerstone course at the Department of Civil Engineering at (a university). The experiment was carried out as one of the two parts of a freshman course, Civil Engineering Concept Design Studio for one of the three classes. The paper will briefly describe the process of the trial teaching in the Fall semester of 2014 as well as that of the pilot curriculum in the Fall of 2015. Major elements of futures thinking and fundamental civil engineering design concepts extracted during the process of incorporation will be presented, along with the assessment of student learning. Suggestions for future curricular implementation will also be made.

Song, M., & Hsieh, S. P. (2016, June), Incorporating Futures Thinking in a Civil Engineering Cornerstone Course Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25656

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