Kick-off speaker Linda Abriola presented an overview of Tufts programs, which promote “the education of engineers as active citizens and innovative problem solvers,” and highlighted “common elements, strengths, and challenges” of the educational models on which they are based. The School of Engineering, in cooperation with the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service and the Tufts Institute for the Environment, uses “project-based service learning models” in its undergraduate courses to encourage innovation, teamwork, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and leadership. “Curricular models range from mentored senior projects in sustainable design to a university-wide seminar in the Institute of Global Leadership.”
Cross-school programs highlighting specific topics (e.g., water; or systems, science, and society) encourage interdisciplinary collaborations in graduate engineering education. These programs often include participants from the social sciences and other science disciplines. Extracurricular activities, which are strongly encouraged, include participation in national organizations, such as Engineers Without Borders, and membership in Tufts outreach groups, such as NERD Girls1 and STOMP (Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program) of the Center for Engineering Educational Outreach.
Dr. Abriola listed the following factors as important to the success of these programs: institutional commitment; alignment of university culture; supportive administrative infrastructure; individual leadership; and assessment, feedback, and dissemination. These factors are also highlighted in the university’s mission statements.
Caroline Baillie, Department of Materials Engineering and Engineering Education, Queens University, Canada, focused on the characteristics of programs that educate engineering students with an eye to social justice. In her presentation, she (1) identified the main principles of socially just engineering practice and (2) discussed the potential of putting social justice at the center of engineering education and practice. Both of these can show the way to transforming engineering education.
“Nerd” is a term often used to describe “eggheads,” or intellectually and technically astute youngsters who are perceived, stereotypically, to lack social skills. See http://www.nerdgirls.org/About.html.