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Teaching Social Responsibility in a Circuits Course

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Improvements in ECE Circuit Analysis

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Paper Authors


Susan M. Lord University of San Diego

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Susan M. Lord received a B.S. from Cornell University and the M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University. She is currently Professor and Chair of Integrated Engineering at the University of San Diego. Her teaching and research interests include inclusive pedagogies, electronics, optoelectronics, materials science, first year engineering courses, feminist and liberative pedagogies, engineering student persistence, and student autonomy. Her research has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Lord is a fellow of the ASEE and IEEE and is active in the engineering education community including serving as General Co-Chair of the 2006 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, on the FIE Steering Committee, and as President of the IEEE Education Society for 2009-2010. She is an Associate Editor of the IEEE Transactions on Education. She and her coauthors were awarded the 2011 Wickenden Award for the best paper in the Journal of Engineering Education and the 2011 and 2015 Best Paper Awards for the IEEE Transactions on Education. In Spring 2012, Dr. Lord spent a sabbatical at Southeast University in Nanjing, China teaching and doing research.

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Breanne Przestrzelski University of San Diego

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Bre Przestrzelski, PhD, is a post-doctoral research associate in the General Engineering department in the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, where she innovatively integrates social justice, humanitarian advancement, and peace into the traditional engineering canon.

Before joining USD in August 2017, Bre spent 9 years at Clemson University, where she was a three-time graduate of the bioengineering program (BS, MS, and PhD), founder of The Design & Entrepreneurship Network (DEN), and Division I rower. In her spare time, Bre teaches design thinking workshops for higher education faculty/administrators at the Stanford d.School as a University Innovation Fellow, coaches a global community of learners through IDEO U, and fails miserably at cooking.

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Elizabeth Reddy Colorado School of Mines

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Elizabeth Reddy is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Division of Engineering, Design & Society at Colorado School of Mines. She is a social scientist, holding a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of California at Irvine and an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago. She is Co-Chair of the Committee for the Anthropology of Science, Technology and Computing in the American Anthropological Association. She studies experts and their work in relation to environments, technologies, and human lives. Her current research projects deal with earthquake risk management technology in Mexico and the United States, environmental data justice in the US/Mexican borderlands, and the development and practice of engineering expertise.

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In an entry-level Electrical Circuits course, we designed a series of modules to help engineering students consider the social and ethical implications of electrical engineering. Such implications are particularly evident when we consider the origin of materials that electrical engineers use, the products that they develop, and the lifecycle of those products. Engaging with issues related to social context can seem disconnected from technical course content by both students and faculty because doing so challenges students to engage productively beyond the technical and requires faculty to devote class time to these themes. In this paper, we describe the design and implementation of three modules that integrate technical and social content to enhance student learning: one dealing with conflict minerals in capacitors, a second with design considerations for an innovative solar power source for use in developing nations, and a third with recycling of electronics. Modules included student homework, guest lectures, in-class discussions, and student presentations—students recognized this material as not deviating from the technical content of the class but rather further understanding the implications of this technical content. We also describe student response to these sociotechnical modules and lessons learned by the instructors. For example, one student commented, “I thought it was a really interesting topic that has larger social consequences. It was cool to get away from the stigma of engineers only worrying about math and showing that engineering is able to have effect in other disciplines.” Overall, students felt that these modules enhanced their learning of circuits content and was relevant to their training as engineers.

We prefer a regular session presentation.

Lord, S. M., & Przestrzelski, B., & Reddy, E. (2019, June), Teaching Social Responsibility in a Circuits Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33354

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