Engineering training has long been characterized by the primacy of technical considerations. In recent years, there have been increasing calls for engineers to better account for social and contextual dimensions of their work, in addition to the technical, in order to adequately address the complex challenges of our modern society. However, the field has been slow to change. In this seminar, I will present findings from a study that explores how a narrowly technical focus of engineering work may be perpetuated through day-to-day engineering training and practice. Findings from this study also highlight how emphasized forms of engineering practice (mis)align with engineers’ personal values and interests and I will discuss the potential implications of this (mis)alignment for how engineers view the field and their place within it. In addition, I will discuss several current collaborative research efforts that relate to this work: one focused on characterizing curricular messaging in two engineering departments and the implications of this messaging for students’ sense of fit and career intentions in their fields and another focused on understanding the adoption and impacts of a toolkit aimed at providing students with the skills to identify and address socially engaged aspects of engineering work.
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