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In many undergraduate engineering programs, sustainability and community engagement are “add-ons”: The undergraduate engineering graduate attributes that address issues such as communications, the role of engineers for society and the environment, ethics, or lifelong learning, are often taught in standalone courses in otherwise packed “technical” curricula, where connections to engineering can be tenuous. Student workloads fail to represent the humane, ethical society we try to instill, with study schedules that disrupt healthy eating, sleeping, or engagement with the world. Engineering education rarely has student-centric pathways and flexible assessment to overcome systemic barriers to diverse learning. Attempts to tackle these challenges individually often prove difficult, where the issues are often intertwined. As a result, the Space Engineering program at the Lassonde School of Engineering is aiming to tackle these issues concurrently. In a first pilot run of a small slice of the new program, students developed a space mission concept to change the power dynamics around water quality in northern Canada, giving communities direct control of data to measure their water quality and quantities. The designed mission had to be implementable sustainably, with the community engaged at every stage. This concept is being developed into a full 4-year program, where students will choose a managed path through project activities that give them all the core and complementary content of a traditional space program. Students will design, build, launch and operate a CubeSat mission, with a community, every 4 years, to address a societal need in a sustainable way. This could then inspire other disciplines both in Engineering and beyond.
Newland, F., & El-Shebiny, R., & Alsop, O. (2022, August), Real Engineering: Space – Experiential, Community Engaged and Sustainable Learning in Space Engineering Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41340
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