Design for the future: Analyzing the broader implications of electronic technologies in an introductory engineering class

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This innovative practice full paper shows how considerations of social, environmental, and economic context were integrated into a required introductory course on electrical engineering. We describe the content, implementation, and results of a "Design for the Future" module conducted in Spring 2019. This module is framed around a course-long student project where students choose a technology of interest (TOI) to them that relates to electrical engineering, (e.g. Tesla batteries, solar cells, and tidal-powered turbines). The module includes a student proposal; lectures and discussions interrogating how to determine and define sustainable technologies and how these can be improved; a memo homework asking students to consider the design of a solar farm; an in-class worksheet exercise designed to help students consider the design implications of who benefits, who pays, and who is excluded in relation to their TOI; and, finally, students present and submit a report on their TOI. Student feedback in surveys and a focus group showed that the module enabled students to think more deeply about the broader implications of technologies and their electrical components. We provide a reflection on the successes and areas for improvement of this module, along with module materials, with the hope that they might help others incorporate them into their courses towards developing the capacity among engineering students to address broad considerations that support values such as sustainability and social justice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Education Conference. Conference Proceedings
Pages (from-to)1-6
Publication statusPublished - 2020

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - implications of design, social, environmental and economic context, electrical engineering, design for the future

ID: 241113407