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The Impact of the EWB Design Summit on the Professional Social Responsibility Attitudes of Participants

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Global and Intercultural Competency

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Paper Authors


Scott Daniel Swinburne University of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr Scott Daniel is a STEM education and international development specialist. A former high school mathematics and science teacher, he recently completed his PhD, and is now working as a Research Fellow in Engineering Education at the Engineering Practice Academy at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne. He has worked in 10 countries on 5 continents, and as a consultant and facilitator with UNESCO, Australian Volunteers International, Engineers without Borders, Scope Global, World Vision, and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. He also has a regular radio segment as “Dr Scott”, answering listeners’ questions about science.

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Nick John Brown Engineers Without Borders Australia

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Nick Brown leads the research interests and activities of Engineers Without Borders Australia. Nick is responsible for the development and delivery of an innovative education and research program that creates, builds and disseminates new knowledge in Humanitarian  Engineering. This program engages academics and students from Australia’s  leading universities to develop innovative solutions to humanitarian problems faced by communities  both within Australia and overseas. These projects cover a range of topics, including designing prosthetic hands for less than $5, researching low cost building materials in Cambodia and developing ways to provide cooking fuel and stoves to refugees all around the world.

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The Engineers without Borders (EWB) Design Summit is an international educational study tour primarily for Australian undergraduate engineering students. Since its inception in 2015, almost 1000 participants have experienced the two-week program, learning about human-centred design, working cross-culturally, and more generally about how engineering and technology can contribute towards creating positive change within communities. Design Summits have predominantly been held in Cambodia and India, as well as Nepal, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, and Samoa, with community-based organisations that EWB Australia already has an existing relationship with. The Design Summit program has a number of aims, including ‘nurturing future development leaders’ and ‘embedding people-centred values and approaches in engineering education’. To evaluate how well these aims are being met, a questionnaire was adapted from existing instruments that purport to measure multi-cultural competence [1] and the perceived social responsibility of engineers [2, 3]. The results from this latter part of the questionnaire are the focus of this paper. This questionnaire was used in a pre-/post-/retention protocol with Design Summit participants. The results will be discussed in detail in the full paper. Although the analysis was confounded by a low completion rate (less than 8% of those who completed the pre-Summit questionnaire went on to also complete the ‘retention’ questionnaire, ~6 months after the Summit), one finding is clear. There is a strong self-selection bias for students who participate in these programs, to have a strong sense of social responsibility. On the quantitative attitudinal questions they scored highly on these measures in the pre-Summit questionnaire, and since they topped out on these questions on the post-Summit and retention questionnaires it seems the instrument is not sensitive enough to reliably measure any attitudinal shifts that may have taken place. Pre-Summit attitudes to professional responsibility were compared over the first six rounds of the Design Summit program, to see whether there had been any measurable changes in the successive cohorts attracted to the program as it has expanded in scale. No systematic changes were observed.

Daniel, S., & Brown, N. J. (2018, June), The Impact of the EWB Design Summit on the Professional Social Responsibility Attitudes of Participants Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31110

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