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Using Heavy Metal Music to Promote Technological and Socio-cultural Understanding

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Experience in Assessing Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1317.1 - 23.1317.16



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Paper Authors


Brian P Kirkmeyer Miami University

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Brian P. Kirkmeyer is the Karen Buchwald Wright Assistant Dean for Student Success and Instructor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He specializes in recruitment, advising, retention and placement of undergraduate students. He currently serves as Director At Large of ASEE's Women in Engineering Division (WIED), and previously served WIED as Secretary. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania and his B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Purdue University.

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Using Heavy Metal Music to Promote Technological and Socio-cultural Understanding Heavy metal is one of the most misinterpreted musical genres in existence, while alsohappening to be one of the most intelligent, insightful and technologically-rich genres. Heavymetal’s history has facilitated multiple engineering developments in its quest for extremity aswell as containing a wealth of commentary about global, social, religious and political cultures.A class has been implemented to help students explore these engineering developments andsocial commentary in order to promote understanding of the interplay between the technologiesand cultural phenomena. This presentation will provide a synopsis of the success of the classover its developmental period. The class utilizes heavy metal’s influences and history to examine where culture andmusic collide. It then goes further to study the music’s need relationship with progress inengineering and design. To do this, the class reviews the engineering problem solving process,as well as discipline-specific topics like materials science, electronics, mechanics andmanufacturing as they pertain to instrument and equipment design. These topics are then relatedto the bigger picture of engineering and technology in general society. An example of this is thedesign and manufacture of drum sets. Drum shells are made of plied wood, which allows for thediscussion of materials science, mechanical design and manufacturing processes and can easilybe expanded to plied materials in general. Also, the cymbals are metal alloys, which again allowthe class to delve into each of these disciplines and is able to be broadened into alloyingprinciples in all areas of engineering. Early class evaluations suggest that combining these seemingly-disparate topics hasstruck a chord in students, so to speak. In the first two years of the class, the feedback from the114 enrolled students included such comments as “It inspired unique thought processes thathelped explore new topics not touched in other classes” and “intellectually in-depth concepts”.For the evaluation question “I rate this class as Excellent”, the ratings were 3.81 and 3.49 on ascale of 0-4 (“0” meaning “Strongly Disagree” and “4” meaning “Strongly Agree”). Thissuggests that combining interesting topics for students with far-reaching and often unusualconcept combinations is a winning formula for promoting cross-disciplinary understanding.

Kirkmeyer, B. P. (2013, June), Using Heavy Metal Music to Promote Technological and Socio-cultural Understanding Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22702

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