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Installing A New "Technology Literacy" Course: Trials And Tribulations

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technological Literacy I

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.744.1 - 9.744.11



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Paper Authors

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David Ollis

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

Installing a “Technology Literacy” Course: Trials and Tribulations

David F. Ollis

Chemical Engineering Department North Carolina State University Raleigh, NC 27695-7905


The creation of a new technology literacy course for non-technical students is described. The author, an experienced engineering faculty member, describes his sojourn through several less-than-familiar landscapes, including the regions of “finding funding” for this non-traditional subject, “and navigating the bureaucracy” of course authorization on his campus.

1. Introduction

The author created, in 1992, a device dissection laboratory for incoming first year engineering students. As “It seemed desirable to base a new lab on some modern and emerging technologies”, the course was developed around six light-based devices: bar code scanner, compact disc player, optical fiber communications and probes, photocopier, video camera (and VCR recorder), and ultraviolet (UV) light driven water purification.1,2 This inexpensive lab was assembled for less than $3,000, and has been utilized in the following formats over a ten year period: (1) two week summer camp1,2 (1993-1994) (NSF-SUCCEED) (2) semester length “device dissection” lab3,4 (1995-1996) (3) in combination with an English writing course3 (4) (part of) summer minority eng’g. orientation (40 students)3,4 (5) six hour/semester (1 device) experience for all 1,100 entering engineering freshmen.5

All student clientele for these lab versions were incoming or first year engineering students, and the switch from one lab format to another was accomplished with minimal reorganizational effort.

Expansion of lab concept to yet other educational opportunities arose naturally, as summarized in “A Lab for all Seasons, A Lab for all Reasons” (ASEE 2000, Ollis).6 One

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition” Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education.

Ollis, D. (2004, June), Installing A New "Technology Literacy" Course: Trials And Tribulations Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13753

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