June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Engineering and Public Policy
15.1172.1 - 15.1172.13
Teaching Engineering and Technology Public Policy While Fulfilling Multiple ABET and University Requirements
Public policy often lags behind innovation and laws are generally created in reaction to social issues. Elected officials are asked to set public policy for technology, the implications of which are typically outside or beyond their individual training and expertise. Conversely, engineers and technologists may not fully appreciate the need for public policy to guide the optimal advancement of appropriate technologies or to regulate specific technologies’ potential negative impact upon society. This disparity creates a gap between innovation and regulation not often addressed in current engineering and technology curriculum.
Engineering and technology colleges are beginning to recognize a need to fill this gap by providing public policy background to their undergraduate engineering and technology students in the form of a planned curriculum. In this paper we will review a recent effort to introduce a public policy course into the curriculum at a midsized Midwest university’s college of Engineering and Technology. Specifically, we will address how this course came to be, how it was accepted by the faculty and students and how it was used to satisfy ABET accreditation and university requirements.
Technology continues to advance in society at an ever increasing rate and becomes more pervasive in our lives year to year. As this occurs “our elected representatives understand less and less about it” 1. Engineers and technologists are responsible for many of the technological innovations but are often distanced from the regulatory process that constricts sometimes inappropriately a technology or in some cases does not restrict the technology enough. Engineers and technologists are not typically cross-trained in the social sciences and social scientists are not trained to think about technologies particularly new, emerging, and converging technologies.2 Engineers and technologists need to learn how to participate in the legislative and policy-making process that will frame developing and existing technologies.3
If engineers and technologist were to develop an understanding of the mechanics of public policy they may be able to assist in the shaping of public policy that influences technology innovations.4 “Opportunity to provide public policy background to engineers and technologists is during their undergraduate experience in the form of a planned curriculum in Engineering and Technology Public Policy (ENTPP)”.5
One concern is how would such ENTPP courses fit in to an already full engineering and technology curriculum. One answer is that ENTPP courses can help satisfy Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) program outcomes h “The broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context” and j “ A
Myers, T., & Stuart, B. (2010, June), Teaching Engineering And Technology Public Policy While Fulfilling Multiple Abet And University Requirements Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16215
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