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Teaching Technology Literacy: An Opportunity For Design Faculty?

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Design in Engineering Education Poster Session

Tagged Division

Design in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1229.1 - 11.1229.13



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Paper Authors

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David Ollis North Carolina State University


John Krupczak Hope College

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John Krupczak is associate professor of engineering at Hope College, and the founding chair of the new Technological Literacy Constituent Committee of ASEE

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Technological Literacy: An Opportunity for Design Faculty ?


The National Academy of Engineering, the National Science Foundation, and various prominent engineering faculty and administrators have pleaded over the last decade that technological literacy is a topic which engineering faculty ought to provide for non-technical majors. We explore here the notion that design faculty are well qualified, perhaps uniquely so, to teach such courses for non-technical majors, i.e., to represent engineering and technology to the non-technical campus population.

Engineering design instruction is universally present on the more than 300 campuses hosting an engineering school. Since each engineering department has at least one design instructor, in excess of 1,000 faculty are identified from which to recruit future technology literacy instructors. We propose this novel activity as a logical component of design instruction. Further, such novel participation will accomplish a second goal, long sought by design instructors, namely that their profession will have an increased, and more public, visibility and appreciation. In sum, involvement of design instructors as teachers of technology literacy will both assist a national need and simultaneously satisfy a professional goal.

Our presentation is structured as follows. We first consider the definition of technological literacy, noting its many dimensions and its need to represent technology through a variety of lenses including historical context, technical content, and device dissection and assembly. We then cite the similarity of activities undertaken by both design instructors and teachers of technological literacy, in particular the broad range of issues (historical, economic, technical, social) inherent in design instruction and problem solving. In consequence, we propose instruction in technological literacy as a new opportunity for design faculty. Through this activity, these faculty will be among the first to be viewed by non-engineering students, not just the last instructors to be encountered by undergraduate engineers. This situation could provide design instructors with a new and professionally rewarding territory for representation of both the design process and designers themselves.


More than ten years ago, Edward W. Ernst 1 discussed the technological literacy of students in non-technical majors:

“Within the past decade (approx. 1985-1995), those at NSF concerned with science, engineering and mathematics education have suggested that technical education of non-specialists should concern those in higher education as much as the education of technical specialists.”

Ollis, D., & Krupczak, J. (2006, June), Teaching Technology Literacy: An Opportunity For Design Faculty? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--367

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