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Thinking Outside the Box in Engineering

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2020 ASEE North Central Section conference


Morgantown, West Virginia

Publication Date

March 27, 2020

Start Date

March 27, 2020

End Date

May 20, 2020

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Craig J. Gunn Michigan State University

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Craig Gunn is the Director of the Communication Program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University. He integrates communication skill activity into all courses within the mechanical Engineering program. He has co-authored numerous textbooks, including - Engineering Your Future.

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It is clear to all engineering institutions of higher learning that the principal focus of study are the technical skills needed to function as a professional engineer. Whether it be controls, vibrations, heat transfer, biomechanics, or a concentrated list of technical subjects, our students are carefully prepared for life in the technical world. The issue with stopping at this list is that we do not provide our students with experiences that aim to bring them into contact with areas that may make their lives both interesting and instructive. The expectation is that they will receive in general university courses all that they need to know about art, literature, and music, along with professional behavior and ethics. This would be fine, except that much of that instruction in “other than technical areas,” does not seem to stick in a student’s mind. These students may hear it in their freshman classes, but quickly forget it as the years pass by. It is believed at XXX that they need to be encouraged within their technical classes to explore areas that are normally not experienced in regular technical courses. Over the past three years, a new course in mechanical engineering was required of all incoming junior mechanical engineers. ME 300 Professional Issues in Mechanical Engineering. The topics chosen to investigate are wide and ranging from rights and responsibilities to creativity, from economics to entrepreneurship. The paper to follow will investigate the topics chosen, the rationale behind using them, and the response from the approximately 800 students who have taken the course. It is important to note that with very little effort these topics could also be introduced in technical areas without taking from those areas any important items. Whether one chooses a stand-alone course or an integrated program, the importance of giving our engineering students a wider scope of understanding is critical.

Gunn, C. J. (2020, March), Thinking Outside the Box in Engineering Paper presented at 2020 ASEE North Central Section conference, Morgantown, West Virginia.

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