Asee peer logo

Using Stories of Technology to Teach Technological and Engineering Literacy in Courses for Majors

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


John W. Blake P.E. Austin Peay State University

visit author page

John Blake is a Professor of Engineering Technology at Austin Peay State University, Clarksville, TN. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Northwestern University, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Tennessee. He teaches major courses ranging from the introductory course for new students through upper level courses in problem solving and in mechanical engineering technology. He has also taught courses on engineering and technology for non-majors.

visit author page

Download Paper |


To help them function in society, all citizens need to have some understanding of engineering and technology. In colleges and universities, this need should be met as part of the general university core curriculum. Accounts from the history of technology, stories told by engineers and by users of technology, and from news items can all be useful in teaching people about engineering and technology.

While efforts to educate all citizens have been focused on people who are not studying engineering, our majors also need to be considered. For students preparing for careers in engineering, stories can show the human side of engineering and technology along with elements of engineering practice. Stories can be used to cover important elements of engineering that do not come across in courses that emphasize engineering analysis or practical experience with a given technology. Stories that can be used to tell non-majors about engineering and technology can also be used to show our majors why their course material is important and how it can be used. These accounts can be used to put the material in the larger systems context.

In a traditional classroom setting, stories are often told in lectures. Faculty are currently being urged to lecture less and have students explore and learn more through their own efforts. Stories can be presented in reading assignments. With online resources, it is relatively easy to use shorter readings focused on specific points. If online readings are used, the instructor can use excerpts from many sources instead of the few books students can reasonably be expected to purchase for a course. The readings can be easily put together with required activities, such as online questions to be graded automatically and discussion boards.

This paper will discuss a work in progress to develop a set of stories in the form of on-line reading assignments to help students understand more about engineering and technology. The goal is to develop a collection of engineering story units that can be used in courses ranging from an introductory course for first year students in the major to upper level and graduate courses in areas such as thermodynamics, machine design, and systems engineering. The story units are to include online question sets, discussions, or other activities that require the students to make use of the material. Stories can be classified by aspects of engineering and technology and can be selected and used to support different courses. These engineering and technology story modules should be useful not only in courses for our majors but also in engineering and technology courses for non-majors and in courses in other areas such as economic history and business. Pilot modules are currently being introduced in courses; this paper will report on progress to date and lay out plans for future work.

Blake, J. W. (2019, June), Using Stories of Technology to Teach Technological and Engineering Literacy in Courses for Majors Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33518

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: © 2019 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