When worlds collide: Engineering students encounter social aspects of production [Book Review]

Science and Engineering Ethics 4 (4):457-472 (1998)
Abstract
To design effective and socially sensitive systems, engineers must be able to integrate a technology-based approach to engineering problems with concerns for social impact and the context of use. The conventional approach to engineering education is largely technology-based, and even when additional courses with a social orientation are added, engineering graduates are often not well prepared to design user- and context-sensitive systems. Using data from interviews with three engineering students who had significant exposure to a socially-oriented perspective on production systems design, this paper argues that engineering students may have difficulty integrating in their own practice the technology-based and the socially-oriented perspectives on production. To enhance engineering students' ability to create systems that integrate both perspectives, and to relieve the intense cognitive and emotional pain that can be experienced by students exposed to both perspectives but unable to reconcile them, this paper reinforces the importance of teaching students the meta skill, design. A design perspective can help students integrate varied, sometimes conflicting, perspectives, and reach beyond customer-defined constraints to consider workplace and social impact.
Keywords engineering  education  ethics  social impact  students  design  manufacturing
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