T6-DM2-2 - Making Engineering Education Sociotechnical

Difference Makers
Chell Roberts1 , Susan Lord1
1 University of San Diego

Under the National Science Foundation Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (IUSE/PFE: RED) program, we proposed to “Develop Changemaking Engineers” by infusing the socio with the technical into engineering education, and in the process to revitalize the conversation about what engineering is within the academy.  In this project, we have developed curriculum that infuses the lenses of social justice, humanitarian practice, and peace into engineering content. We have also developed workshops aimed at broadening the capacity of engineering faculty to teach these topics.  We have also created focused cluster hiring to bring new faculty to the school that have the desire and expertise to work in these areas. Finally, we have reached out to other schools and universities to find others who want to engage with us as we try to redefine the engineering canon.

This work-in-progress paper includes reflections on this work from two perspectives: that of a department chair who created a new department as a place to prototype new curricular ideas and that of a dean of engineering that has been working with organizational change.  From our two viewpoints, we reflect on:

  1. Challenges in understanding the goals of making engineering education more sociotechnical.
  2. Having the conversations about what engineering is and what it is not.
  3. Changing the culture within the school to value the sociotechnical nature of engineering.