June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Design in Engineering Education
13.1201.1 - 13.1201.19
The Applicability of Engineering Design Principles in Formulating a Coherent Cosmology and Worldview Abstract
Recently, concepts from the field of design engineering have been found extremely useful in many areas of science. From the very large aspects of the universe (i.e. big bang cosmology and galactic and stellar evolution) to the very small (i.e. the fitness of the chemical elements and the life-codes found in DNA), the cosmos is so readily and profitably reverse-engineered as to suggest that it may have been engineered in the first place. The linking of extraordinarily complex, but stable functional structures with the production of value provides a strong impression of the action of a transcendent, yet calculating, intentionality. The most coherent view of the cosmos appears to be that of an engineered system of interdependent subsystems that efficiently interact to prepare for, develop, and support advanced life, subject to various constraints. Considerations of intention and purpose in natural science have recently been disallowed, and yet our world seems to be infused with purpose. The cosmological quest benefits from the integration of knowledge from all areas of study, including those that consider questions of purpose, such as design engineering. The synthesis of this knowledge that provides the most satisfying answers for the human condition is one that admits the recognition of purpose, and possibly the existence of an (as yet, not-well-understood) engineering influence.
In a course for engineering majors at our university, students are encouraged to integrate their knowledge of science and engineering with the development of a coherent cosmology and worldview. A major component of this course includes the recognition of engineering design characteristics in nature. Characteristics such as stability, predictability, reliability, transparency, controllability, efficiency, and optimality are found in nearly all human-engineered systems. These characteristics are also prevalent throughout the integrated and finely-tuned systems that make up the cosmos. Examples of such are studied by the students, and presented in what follows. Students are challenged to weigh the evidence supporting various explanations for the current structures and resulting values found in the universe. In so doing they make the most of their technical education, and find motivation for a fulfilling and hopeful life of meaning, purpose, and service to humanity, as a deep-thinking engineer.
Engineering Impact on Worldview
As early human beings discovered the basic workings of nature, they also learned how to use their creativity to put those discoveries to work in solving the everyday problems of life. Hence the fledgling field of engineering was born. Throughout the millennia, scientific discoveries have continued to fuel the fires of engineering industry. In recent years, the closely-related fields of science and engineering have enjoyed enormous success. The maturity of these fields has enabled current practitioners to deliver a potential productivity and quality of life which was hardly dreamed of a hundred years ago. Nature has proven to be incredibly bountiful and profoundly deep in providing mankind with an array of challenging puzzles to solve. Human mental capacity and insatiable curiosity make it difficult to resist these mysteries, especially after repeatedly experiencing how their unraveling results in such incredible satisfaction, fruitfulness, and profitability1,2. Could it be that the realm of nature and the human mind were, in some sense,
Halsmer, D., & Halsmer, N., & Johnson, R., & Wanjiku, J. (2008, June), The Applicability Of Engineering Design Principles In Formulating A Coherent Cosmology And Worldview Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. https://peer.asee.org/3501
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: © 2008 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