June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Design in Engineering Education
14.1216.1 - 14.1216.16
Praxis III – promoting an interdisciplinary approach to solving global problems through a course focusing on sustainable development and engineering design
This paper will discuss how Engineering Science, a division within the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada, has developed an undergraduate curriculum to foster engineers that can meaningfully contribute to sustainable development. In particular, Engineering Science has developed Praxis III, a course for second year Engineering Science students, which takes both a systems engineering and an interdisciplinary approach to solving complex global problems and begins to integrate issues surrounding globalism and sustainable development. This paper will describe the broader curriculum context for this course, the content and format of Praxis III as it existed in the 2007 and 2008 academic years, the training in problem-solving that students receive, the lessons learned, and future plans.
The University of Toronto, located in the multicultural city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is itself a multicultural institution. It “offers an education on a global scale” with “students and faculty drawn from around the world” where many of the faculty members are “international leaders in their fields”. The University of Toronto has been “recognized as Canada's top university and one of North America's best public research universities”. By Canadian standards, the University of Toronto is a large institution serving approximately 52,000 undergraduate students across three campuses. As such the University offers a diverse set of undergraduate programs, both in arts and science as well as in engineering.
The Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto is “Canada's largest engineering school and is widely recognized as one of the best in North America”, attracting “…the top math and science students from across Canada and internationally.” The Faculty offers eight core undergraduate Engineering programs – Chemical, Civil, Computer, Electrical, Industrial, Materials, Mechanical, and Mineral – and one elite program, Engineering Science. The core eight programs comprise approximately 3,300 students, while an additional 1,000 are enrolled in Engineering Science.
Engineering Science “…offers a unique and dynamic program designed to provide superior students with an undergraduate education in the most innovative disciplines within engineering”. The Engineering Science curriculum is divided into two sections, the Foundation and the Options, each lasting two years (four academic terms). The four Foundation terms “…provide a strong foundation in science, math, technology and design”, and include courses that cover classical mechanics, structures and materials, quantum physics, systems biology, fluid dynamics, robotics design, thermodynamics, linear algebra, calculus, computer programming, and electrical fundamentals. Engineering Science is by nature a multidisciplinary program that enables students to work within and across disciplines.
Foster, J., & Heeney, A. (2009, June), The Engineering Science Praxis Sequence: Challenges And Opportunities When Integrating Sustainable Development Into The Engineering Design Classroom Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5777
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