Asee peer logo

Technology 21 – A Course On Technology For Nontechnologists

Download Paper |


2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Technological Literacy I

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1214.1 - 9.1214.11

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Paul Predecki

author page

Albert Rosa

author page

George Edwards

Download Paper |

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

Session 1661

Technology 21 – A Course on Technology for Non-Technologists

Albert J. Rosa, Paul K. Predecki, George Edwards

University of Denver, Department of Engineering


There is a need to prepare non-technologists to assume senior management, political and other leadership roles in a highly technological world. Many non-technical college students have a fear and distrust of learning things mathematical, scientific or technical. At the University of Denver we have created a successful three-quarter long course called Technology 21 that has been offered for fourteen years to non-engineering and non-science students as a means to meet their science general education requirement. The course covers the three basic resources of technology – Energy, Materials and Information – during the first two quarters. At the start of the first quarter a discussion of numbers to include orders of magnitude, charting of data and proper presentation of data using numbers is presented for a better understanding of the numerical content of the course. The material in these first two quarters remains relatively constant and includes numeric and laboratory components. The course culminates with a capstone quarter wherein students working in groups of ten are required to solve a current national or global technological issue for either the current US president or Congress. Issues change every year and address such topics as “What should US policy be towards: Electricity”, “Petroleum”, “Automobiles”, “Global Warming”, “Mass Transit”, “The Internet”, or “Nuclear Energy”. Each group is required to produce a learned, 20-page, single-space, coherent policy paper that considers the scientific, technological, social, political, economic, legal, safety, environmental and ethical aspects of the issue. Each group must orally defend their position vis- à-vis other positions arrived at by other groups in a press conference type setting. Invited lectures by local and national experts, as well as, other experts from across the faculty add realism to the course since they often express contradictory views. Enrollment is usually capped at about 90 students and the course has always had a long waiting list.

I. Introduction.

A persistent, if unsung, challenge for institutions of higher learning is to graduate technologically literate graduates in non-technical fields. Students of the Liberal Arts, Business, Law, and others non-technical disciplines are usually required to take a common, general or Core curriculum for the specific purpose of expanding their horizon and turning what would otherwise be a narrowly educated practitioner into a broadly educated professional. As our society becomes increasingly dependent on technology, it becomes essential that we provide all our students with

Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Predecki, P., & Rosa, A., & Edwards, G. (2004, June), Technology 21 – A Course On Technology For Nontechnologists Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015