Cultivating Engineers For Contributions In Participatory Democracy: A Curriculum In Technology Policy Analysis

Dr. Scott Iverson
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Current literature confirms the need for our technical experts to participate in the decisions concerning policies involving technologies that permeate most aspects of our lives. Students graduating with an Engineering Bachelors degree are trained to be technically competent. Although they are creative in their ability to perform quantitative analysis and are innovative in their approach to design, only a small percentage of our graduates have the interest or capacity to address the qualitative issues essential to the framework of participatory democracy in a highly technological environment. These are often engineering students who have a predisposition towards deeper generalist knowledge and have acquired it outside the typical technology curriculum. We therefore generate a few technical experts with these skills, but we can not guarantee an adequate supply of engineers with these important proficiencies among the total number of graduates.

An intervention for the University of Victoria has been to design a Technology and Society course required of all engineering students that encourages them to seek the skills and knowledge required to critically address these issues. Concurrently, the faculty is augmenting the available specialisations within each of our faculty's programmes to better meet the needs of the students who have a proclivity to entertain these more eclectic interests. The expansion includes two additional streams. The first is called the Technology Policy Option within each engineering speciality. This requires the students to take seven additional courses outside the Faculty of Engineering and provides them with a notation on their transcripts confirming the successful matriculation through the option. The second is called the BEng- BA Technology Policy Dual Degree Programme. Students take twenty additional classes from outside the Faculty of Engineering and receive both the Bachelor of Engineering degree in their selected discipline and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Technology Policy Analysis.

Keywords: Participatory Democracy, Technology Policy Analysis, Engineering Design, Decision Making, University Curriculum
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Cultivating Engineers For Contributions In Participatory Democracy

Dr. Scott Iverson

Engineering Professor, Office of the Dean Faculty of Engineering University of Victoria, International Council of Systems Engineers

Professor Iverson has specialized in Systems Engineering applied to health care, transportation, resource management and socio-economic technological modelling and simulation. He teaches courses in technology and society, transportation engineering, engineering economics, development economics, simulation, operations research and research methodologies. He is currently an engineering professor at the University of Victoria. Previous positions have included the University of Washington as professor and founding director of Industrial Engineering, the Victoria University of Wellington as a professor of Management Science, the University of North Carolina as a professor of Urban and Environmental Engineering, the National University of Singapore in Industrial Engineering, Trinity College Dublin University in the Systems Development Programme and Bogazici University in Istanbul in the Industrial Engineering Department.

Ref: T05P0170