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Opportunity in Design: Extending and Enriching the Purpose of Engineering Education

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Empathy and Human-centered Design 2

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Cole Hatfield Joslyn University of Texas at El Paso Orcid 16x16

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Cole Joslyn is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Education and Leadership at The University of Texas at El Paso. His research emphasizes humanizing engineering education, particularly 1) increasing Latinx students’ sense of belonging in engineering by a) integrating holistic, socio-culturally responsive practices and Latinx cultural assets and values into educational success strategies, and b) understanding how Latinx students experience values conflicts and exploring how to help them reconcile those conflicts; 3) promoting student growth/development in multiple dimensions; and 4) reconciling the social and technical nature of engineering.

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From a perspective of education that emphasizes its intrinsic merits, some argue that education is valuable in and of itself. This perspective is based on three criteria for classifying various activities and processes as educational: worthwhile knowledge of some value must be communicated; the manner in which people are educated is equally important as the content that is shared; the content must be seen in perspective, that is, in relation to its place in a coherent pattern of life. Design affords an opportunity to uniquely satisfy the humanistic purposes of the previously mentioned criteria, particularly in engineering education, by contributing to individuals’ self-realization and “to the development of an ‘educated’ person.” Therefore, building on this perspective, I explore design as a context for teaching and learning in engineering education that can humanize engineering education by extending and enriching the purpose of engineering education. Again, design provides a unique opportunity to incorporate and promote the underlying humanistic qualities that operationalize humanistic purposes to affect engineering curricula. Furthermore, the nature of design and human-centered approaches to design all contribute to reconciling the social and technical nature inherent in engineering and engineering education. In this paper, I examine the humanistic qualities and sociotechnical nature of design to identify underlying principles that inform and guide best practices for teaching design and operationalizing humanistic purposes in engineering education. Findings reveal that opportunities exist particularly in the open-ended, ill-defined, reflective, and social nature of design. Leveraging these in teaching practices and curriculum promotes a broad and well-rounded education that inspires and enables a creative and productive life, and that is necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context.

Joslyn, C. H. (2021, July), Opportunity in Design: Extending and Enriching the Purpose of Engineering Education Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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