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Technological Literacy And Engineering For Non Engineers: Lessons From Successful Courses.

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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

Defining Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1239.1 - 11.1239.18



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Paper Authors


John Krupczak Hope College

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Associate Professor of Engineering.

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David Ollis North Carolina State University

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Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering

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

Technological Literacy and Engineering for Non-Engineers: Lessons from Successful Courses.


The engineering profession is united in calling on all Americans to understand and appreciate the central nature of technology in our daily lives. This call for technological literacy has resulted in some action; however, the national efforts are thus far directed largely toward the pre-college K12 population. Efforts to address the broad understanding of all types of technology, not just information technology, often proceed under different names including: technological literacy, engineering for non-engineers, engineering for everyone, and engineering as a liberal art. The last major initiative to address technology literacy among undergraduates was the Sloan Foundation’s New Liberal Arts Program. This effort ended nearly two decades ago in the mid nineteen eighties just as the Internet was becoming widespread, the audio compact disk was a still a novelty, and the vast array of digital devices which now common place were just appearing in crude form. In light of these developments, it is time to reconsider technological literacy among undergraduates. While activity by engineering educators has not been widespread, a number of individuals have worked steadily on aspects of the topic and have accumulated encouraging results. This work will review representative technological literacy courses taught in recent years. The review will emphasize lessons learned from successful technological literacy courses. Also presented will be similarities and differences in learning objectives and student outcomes, assessment tools and techniques, strategies for establishing technological literacy courses, and factors affecting implementation in different types of institutions including community colleges.


A workshop on the technological literacy of undergraduates was sponsored by the National Science Foundation ( Division of Undergraduate Education) and convened at the National Academy of Engineering on April 18-19, 2005. This workshop sought to identify and define the current research issues regarding the broad understanding of technology by all undergraduates. The workshop format consisted of a dozen presentations by faculty having individually implemented technological literacy courses at their home institution. The major features of these courses are summarized below.

The technological literacy courses presented establish that the subject can be implemented successfully across a wide range of undergraduate institutions. The modest number of campuses offering such courses, estimated at perhaps two dozen, indicates opportunity and need for expansion in order to increase the technological literacy of US undergraduates as both NAE and NSF have recommended.

Among the current courses, several have been taught for more than ten years, others are as recent as one year. Class size varied from ten to several hundred, according to campus. The highest enrollment examples were found at campuses where the technological literacy course fulfilled a technical or science distribution requirement for

Krupczak, J., & Ollis, D. (2006, June), Technological Literacy And Engineering For Non Engineers: Lessons From Successful Courses. Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--422

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