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Perceptions Concerning The Inclusion Of Public Policy Materials In Engineering Curriculum

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering, Engineers and Setting Public Policy

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1150.1 - 12.1150.10



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Paper Authors

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Douglas Sicker University of Colorado at Boulder

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Tom Lookabaugh University of Colorado at Boulder

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

Perceptions Concerning The Inclusion Of Public Policy Materials In Engineering Curriculum

Abstract In previous research, we surveyed approximately seventy undergraduate and graduate engineering students in order to understand their perspectives on the inclusion of public policy coursework within their curriculum. We sought to determine whether these students thought that it was of value to gain an understanding of public policy as it related to their discipline. We found that many of these students did value such knowledge. We also found that the more senior students and the students with work experience overwhelmingly valued such material.

As a follow-up to this research, we surveyed approximately one hundred engineers in a variety of hiring positions in industry to determine their view on the inclusion of public policy in an engineering curriculum. Among the questions included in the survey, we asked, “Do you believe that engineering students should be exposed to public policy issues as part of their education?” We also addressed a number of other issues, including: 1) How do these engineers define public policy? 2) Should the inclusion of such policy issues be part of a standalone course or integrated into existing courses? 3) Who should teach this material? 4) Could such knowledge help a student advance in their career? and 5) Would you favor hiring students with educational background in public policy? In this paper, we report on the findings of this survey. Of note, we found statistically significant differences based on the engineering discipline and on the job title of the survey participant.

1. Introduction

As part of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program (ITP) curriculum (a master’s degree program in the Engineering College at the University of Colorado at Boulder), students have been required to take course work that includes public policy material and attend, as part of an engineering seminar, a year’s worth of conferences from the Silicon Flatirons Telecommunications Program; these conferences have strong legal content and emphasis and are hosted by the university’s law school. Recent examples include “The Digital Broadband Migration: Rewriting the Telecom Act,” “Open Source, Open Standards, and the Future of the Internet,” “The End of Politics as We Knew It: Examining the Internet and its Impact on Political Participation,” and “Searching for the Third Broadband Pipe.” A typical conference consists of 3 to 4 one-hour panel sessions discussing different aspects of the conference’s topics. Panels are usually comprised of a mix of lawyers, legal scholars, business executives, technologists and government officials. The conferences are highly regarded by lawyers and legal academics alike. In addition to these conferences, the students are required to take 6 credits of course work that includes a public policy focus (as it relates to telecommunications).

Sicker, D., & Lookabaugh, T. (2007, June), Perceptions Concerning The Inclusion Of Public Policy Materials In Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--3078

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