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Technology Impact: From Utopia to Wasteland

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Technological Literacy and Technological Policy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1268.1 - 25.1268.7



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Paper Authors


Robert A. Heard Carnegie Mellon University

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Robert Heard is Associate Teaching Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Past experience includes 17 years in industry and the past seven years teaching at Carnegie Mellon with particular emphasis on the engineering-based courses, including materials selection and capstone design courses.

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Technology Impact – From Utopia to WastelandRobert HeardDepartment of Materials Science and EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversityA course entitled Materials, Energy, and the Environment has been developed and taught at CarnegieMellon as part of the effort to educate our students on the intricacies of technologies impact on society,with particular focus on the environment. Unlike courses that are structured to just discuss the historyof technology, this university listed course was developed and taught by the Materials Science andEngineering Department and is structured to expose students to the basic science that has influencedthe development of civilization and impacted society. In one sense, it is a reversal of the typical flow ofhumanities education into the engineering school. It serves as a technology education outward into thehumanity and science schools.The course itself attempts to illustrate that material selection and applications have major ecologicalimplications on energy consumption, material resources and environmental impact. These together, inturn, impact society, Society and social norms also have a tremendous role to play throughconsumerism. Awareness of the complicated interaction is paramount for continued advancement ofcivilization. With the scale of industrialization that exists on our planet, consideration of resourcemanagement, ethical material selection choices, energy management, and final disposal choices are allnecessary to ensure a sustainable future.

Heard, R. A. (2012, June), Technology Impact: From Utopia to Wasteland Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22025

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