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Engineering Education
(working group of the Prometheans SIG)
[You may follow information pertaining to this working group by registering for the listserv for the overall SIG. Go to:]

The Engineering Education working group of the SHOT Prometheans SIG is currently engaged in a number of different activities to help promote

a) A better understanding of engineering education by members of SHOT, including an appreciation of new visions and proposed standards in engineering education (such as ABET EC 2000, and the National Academy of Engineering's The Engineer of 2020 in the United States),

b) The development of new humanistic curricula for engineers, and the exchange of course syllabi to help make the current findings in the history of technology and other related fields relevant to the engineers of tomorrow, and

c) Liaison with organizations such as the Liberal Education Division of the American Society of Engineering Education, so that we can pursue a coordinated approach to improvements in engineering education

Specific activities are highlighted below.


We are considering organizing a panel on the "Use of History in Engineering Education" during the 2008 ASEE/IEEE workshop in Saratoga Springs, NY. Further information is forthcoming. If you are interested, please email the working group chair, Atsushi Akera, at

Syllabus Exchange

We have begun to compile a number syllabi for representative courses that offer a creative vision for introducing a humanistic curriculum and a vision of liberal education to engineering students. This information may be shared freely; comments on these syllabi may be directed to the individual authors, or to the prometheans listserve at

Name of Course

Contributor Institution Institution Type
  1000 Level History of Technology
ASHE-1100 The History of Technology: Culture and Context  R. Martello Olin College Private / Engineering


  Introductory Courses / Seminars for Engineers
IHSS-1975 Social Dimensions of Engineering

A. Akera Rensselaer Polytechnic Private / Engineering

  team assignment
     1, 2, 3


A first year readings/projects based seminar (25 students max) designed to introduce engineers to humanistic and social science perspectives. Though not strictly a history of technology course, given my own training, we do use a good amount of history of tech readings. The course is based on using educational/entrepreneurial simulation both to promote standard professional development objectives, but also to take an approach that mobilizes a rather broad suite of techniques for engaged learning. Engineering students, simply put, like to do things rather than read things, and while there’s a good amount of reading involved as well, they do get a chance to explore and “implement” ideas in ways that generates interest, while also contributing to knowledge (and student?) retention. You’ll also notice a “globalization” theme, though I’m curious here, for feedback, on whether you think I’m doing so responsibly. I’ll attach a couple of the team project assignment descriptions as well, since I think this conveys more of an idea of how this part unfolds.
  2000+ History of Technology
HIST-225 Engineering in History

A. Johnson Univ. of South Carolina Public / University
  syllabus This is is a history of engineering course I teach to sophomore level-ish engineering students. We're working to get this approved as their gen ed required history course. A similar course in the history of science is imagined for science majors.
  Specialized / Advanced Topics Courses

  Introductory Courses for Other Related Disciplines
(These courses may serve as models for those developing introductory seminars for engineers)

 ITEC-1220 Politics and Economics of Information Technology

 A. Akera Rensselaer Polytechnic  Private / Engineering

  student work

 This is a very different course from IHSS1975 (Social Dimensions of Engineering), and is designed for first year IT students. It too uses the model of educational simulation, but in a larger format. Thought not designed for engineering students per se (although the issues are similar), and this course has even less to do with history (the first course in the sequence does make extensive use of the history of communications; it’s taught by another faculty member in our department.) I thought folks might find it useful to look at in terms of the scalability of the kind of course described above. You’ll want to also check out the associated website, if you want to examine this model further.
  Engineering Ethics
PHIL-321 Engineering Ethics

A. Johnson Univ. of South Carolina  Public / University
  syllabus A course in engineering ethics, which mostly mechanical engineers take to fulfill their ethics requirement (as is true for most of your universities, each engineering program at USC has its own often idiosyncratic ways to meet ABET reqs., thus this course which isn't focused specifically on MechE end up being about 90% MechEs).



Atsushi Akera (chair of working group)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
email: // tel: (usa) 518.276.2314


"All history is relevant, but the history of technology is the most relevant" —Mel Kranzberg

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