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Scaffolding Undergraduate Engineering Design Education with the Wellbeing Framework

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Relevance of and Models for Community Engagement in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Community Engagement Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1142.1 - 25.1142.11



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Paper Authors


Lindsey Anne Nelson Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Lindsey Nelson is a doctoral student in engineering education. She has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Boston University and an M.A. in poverty and development from the Institute of Development Studies housed at the University of Sussex in England. Her research interests include sustainable design, engineering design methodologies, the public’s understanding of engineering, poverty mitigation, global participation, and engineering education. She is a passionate advocate for inclusive and socially just engineering professional practice.

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Scaffolding Undergraduate Engineering Design Education with the Wellbeing FrameworkAbstractIncreasingly, engineering design educators articulate wanting to embed social sustainability intostudent projects. Some educators observe that global calls, such as the Grand Challenges ofEngineering and the Millennium Development Goals, foster social consciousness whilesupporting open innovation environments. Using a broad social goal like “poverty alleviation” toframe a course design challenge can help students connect engineering design processes tomessages that proclaim engineering as a socially engaged profession [1]. Yet scaffolding studentlearning in engineering design for poverty alleviation should involve more than a simpledirective to create a device for a poor person. The purpose of this paper is to discuss howdefining poverty as systematic failures to achieve wellbeing objectives scaffolds learning for bothstudents and faculty members engaged in design for poverty alleviation.Theoretical frameworks of wellbeing [2] explain the program evolution found in Ohio NorthernUniversity’s freshman capstone design course while offering valuable insights for further courseimprovements. As the professors piloted this innovative course [3, 4], the professors discovered aneed to use design personas and community profiles rather than statistical income measures ofpoverty. Further, the capstone course facilitated greater student interest in implementing designsfor various community partners. Researchers in development studies use wellbeing frameworksto guide participatory data collection and participatory analysis required to produce contextuallyrich community profiles. The participatory analysis includes community members anddevelopment practitioners in order to identify priority projects that will improve the community’squality of life. As Ohio Northern University moves towards more active community engagement,theoretical frameworks of wellbeing can be used to outline best practices for engaging withcommunities at all stages in the design process.This paper identifies how wellbeing frameworks 1) guide student classroom learning and 2)provide cautionary insights for community-based fieldwork. Wellbeing frameworks havepotential to bring best practices associated with community engagement into classroom settings,broadening student access to innovative community-centered engineering design methodologies.This unique international development methodology [5] centers on how various designs fosterresponsible wellbeing by minimizing harms; thus, wellbeing frameworks could inform socialevaluations of engineering design.
1. National Academy of Engineering, Changing the Conversation. 2008, Washington, DC: National Academies Press.2. Gough, I. and J.A. McGregor, eds. Wellbeing in Developing Countries: From Theory to Research. 2007, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.3. Estell, J.K. and K. Reid, Work in Progress: Development of Personas: Emphasizing Human Need in a First-Year Engineering Capstone Coure. FIE Conference Proceedings, 2010.4. Reid, K. and J.K. Estell, Incorporation of Poverty Alleviation in Third World Countries in a First-Year Engineering Capstone Course. International Journal of Engineering Education, 2011. in review.5. Deneulin, S., ; and J.A. McGregor, The capability approach and the politics of a social conception of wellbeing. European Journal of Social Theory, 2010. 13(4): p. 501-519.

Nelson, L. A. (2012, June), Scaffolding Undergraduate Engineering Design Education with the Wellbeing Framework Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21899

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