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Integrating Humanitarian Values into First Year Engineering Coursework

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Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference



Publication Date

April 9, 2021

Start Date

April 9, 2021

End Date

April 10, 2021

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Paper Authors


Gary P. Halada Stony Brook University

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Dr. Halada, Associate Professor in Materials Science and Chemical Engineering at Stony Brook University, directs an interdisciplinary undergraduate degree program in Engineering Science. He designs educational materials focused on nanotechnology, advanced manufacturing, and how engineers learn from engineering disasters and how failure and risk analysis can be used to teach about ethics and societal implications of emerging technologies. Halada is the PI and Faculty Director of the REU Site in Nanotechnology for Health, Energy and the Environment and directs the Additive Manufacturing Materials, Prototyping and Applications Center (AMPAC) at Stony Brook University. In recognition of his academic activities, he received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and has been selected a Leadership Fellow for the Science Education for New Civic Engagement and Responsibility (SENCER) program of the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement.

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Humanitarian values and concerns can be seamlessly integrated into undergraduate engineering coursework, and have proven valuable in enhancing student learning, engagement and retention. We report on initial design and implementation of novel problem-based content for a first year engineering science course. The assignments and exercises involve real world challenges in (a) improving life in a large refugee camp in the Middle East and (b) designing ways to monitor coastal changes driven by climate change, the two exercises being linked through use of an inexpensive Arduino-based device with integrated sensors for projects easily adaptable to remote learning needs (as required by COVID 19 restrictions). These activities are designed to meet course learning objectives in engineering problem solving and value sensitive design. Initial student feedback from this ongoing project, collected via reflections and anonymous surveys, indicate that this is a fruitful approach which clearly enhances student engagement and perceptions of the engineering field. In addition, lessons learned from this work is leading to development of a lecture/workshop in values and humanitarian engineering to be presented in the author’s REU Site in Nanotechnology for Health, Energy and the Environment.

Halada, G. P. (2021, April), Integrating Humanitarian Values into First Year Engineering Coursework Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . 10.18260/1-2--36305

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