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Teaching social topics in engineering: The case of energy policy and social goals

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Engineering and Public Policy I

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1149.1 - 23.1149.16



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Paper Authors


Rylan C. Chong Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Rylan Chong is a master's student in the Information Security Program and affiliated with the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security (CERIAS) at Purdue University. He has a B.S. in Computer Science from Chaminade University of Honolulu. His research areas include global policy, ethics, information security and assurance, technology adoption, biometrics, education, pharmaceutical supply chain, and energy.

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Dennis R. Depew Purdue University, West Lafayette

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From July, 2002 to June, 2011, Dr. Depew served as the
fourth Dean of the College of Technology at Purdue
University. He is currently Dean Emeritus and Professor in
the College of Technology.
He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from East
Tennessee State University before coming to Purdue to
pursue the Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1985. He joined
the faculty of Purdue’s Department of Industrial
Technology in 1987 as an assistant professor. During his tenure at Purdue, Dr.
Depew served as Head of the Department of Industrial Technology, University
Coordinator of Excellence 21, and Assistant Dean of the Graduate School. Prior to
becoming Dean of the College of Technology at Purdue, Dr. Depew served as
Dean of the College of Applied Sciences at Western Carolina University from
During his days in the classroom, Dr. Depew won or was nominated for numerous
teaching awards, including the James G. Dwyer Award presented to the
Outstanding Teacher in the College of Technology. He has served as principal
investigator or co-principal investigator for over $2 million dollars in external
grants to support academic programs and applied research projects in his
department and college and serves as a reviewer for programs funded by the
National Science Foundation.
He is the author of more than 60 technical publications and papers and has served
as a technical consultant for Fortune 500 companies on the subject of quality and
productivity improvement. The list of companies includes well known names such
as Alcoa, Caterpillar, and Subaru-Isuzu.
Dr. Depew is also a senior member of the American Society for Quality, the
American Association for Engineering Education, and Epsilon Pi Tau Honorary

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Ida B Ngambeki Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Ida Nagmbeki is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Department of Technology, Leadership and Innovation at Purdue's College of Technology and at Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute. She has a B.S. in Engineering from Smith College and a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research areas include global engineering policy, human-artefact interaction, personality and engineering decision-making, and interest in engineering.

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Melissa Jane Dark Purdue University

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Melissa Dark is W.C. Furnas Professor of Technology in the College of Technology at Purdue University. She serves on the Faculty Leadership Council for Purdue's Global Policy Research Institute, Faculty Director of Purdue's Innovation and Commercialization Center, and Associate Director for the Center for Education and Research in Information Assurance and Security.

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Teaching social topics in engineering: The case of energy policy and libertyThe purpose of this paper is to explore how the critical analysis of social goals linked toengineering can be taught in the engineering classroom. An examination of the interconnectionbetween liberty and energy, focusing on the policy and ethical underpinnings will be used as anillustration. Public policy is an increasingly important topic in the engineering educationcurriculum. However, curricular innovations in this area are still in their infancy. Curricularinnovation includes both what is taught as well as how it is taught. The substantive contributionof this paper is twofold: first to demonstrate a critical analysis of social policy as it affectsengineering, specifically the social goals and ethical implications of the concept of liberty whenapplied to energy policy, and second to discuss how this critical analysis can be taught in theengineering classroom.In this paper, we analyze a subset of policies related to the global grand challenge area of energy;a topic that pertains to several engineering disciplines. Policies will be analyzed across time todetermine how energy policy affects liberty by preventing or failing to prevent interference byothers in energy generation, distribution, and access. These energy policies limit or extend anindividual’s free action for various reasons such as assuring the affordance of minimum needs,protecting national security, and promoting specific energy markets. We will use the works of anumber of scholars including Isaiah Berlin, Deborah Stone, Val Hawks and Joseph Ekstrom todelve into the connection between energy and liberty. We will discuss negative liberty, whereexternal interference in individual or market activity is limited, as well as examine the restrictionof free action in the energy market by the law to limit harms such as physical injury, suffering,loss of resources, amenity effects, emotional harm, psychological harm, spiritual harm, moralharm, and harms done by solutions.We will then discuss how engineering educators could create curricular innovations such asmodules, courses, or experiential education to teach this material and provide suggestions for thesuccess of such innovations.

Chong, R. C., & Depew, D. R., & Ngambeki, I. B., & Dark, M. J. (2013, June), Teaching social topics in engineering: The case of energy policy and social goals Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22534

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