Broadening Engineering Perspectives by Emphasizing the Human Side of Engineering

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Gaunkar, Neelam
Fila, Nicholas
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Mina, Mani
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Electrical and Computer Engineering

The Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECpE) contains two focuses. The focus on Electrical Engineering teaches students in the fields of control systems, electromagnetics and non-destructive evaluation, microelectronics, electric power & energy systems, and the like. The Computer Engineering focus teaches in the fields of software systems, embedded systems, networking, information security, computer architecture, etc.

The Department of Electrical Engineering was formed in 1909 from the division of the Department of Physics and Electrical Engineering. In 1985 its name changed to Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. In 1995 it became the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

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  • Department of Electrical Engineering (1909-1985)
  • Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering (1985-1995)

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Industrial Design
The Department of Industrial Design seeks to teach students to tap creativity for the design of products, systems or services that meet commercial objectives in business and industry. The Industrial Design Program was established in the Department of Art and Design in 2010. In 2012, the Department of Industrial Design was created.
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In the present day, most engineering programs are focused on imparting highly detailed technical knowledge to their students. Some of the forward-looking programs and faculty are bringing socio-technical perspectives to engineering education, but to- date they are not the majority. Though the students remain interested in technical content, oftentimes they face difficulty connecting what they learn to practicality. Consequently, students resort to learning through memorization and example-based learning implying that students quickly forget what they have learned. It is well documented that students can retain more about courses where they have participated in team activities, problem solving, etc. Since they can work on connections and sharing ideas as a community. In recent years, it is also becoming apparent that a lack of attention to human values and the human side of engineering will create disconnects between the social responsibility of engineers and their place as technical citizens and leaders. However, if a connection exists between the students’ education and their personal learning goals, would there be an improvement in how they learn? Through our work, we seek evidence that when a student engages personally and is socio-technically aware they are more receptive to learning. We would like to know if incorporation of a human sided approach to engineering (through an inquiry classroom), enables engineering students to be more engaged and involved in their learning and eventually towards societal issues. Additionally, we will perform a content analysis of student reflections to investigate if an inquiry-based environment is suitable for students to engage in the human side of engineering.


This is a manuscript of a proceeding published as Gaunkar, Neelam Prabhu, Nicholas Fila, and Mani Mina. "Broadening Engineering Perspectives by Emphasizing the Human Side of Engineering." In 2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (2020). DOI: 10.1109/FIE44824.2020.9274104. Posted with permission.

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Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2020