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6.13: Instructor Supplemental Resources

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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ASEE Draft Engineering Standards. This chapter is focused on “Dimension 3: The Nature of Engineering” and “Dimension 5: Engineering and Society” of the ASEE Corporate Members Council Draft Engineering Standards; these draft standards will serve as input to the National Academy of Engineering process of considering engineering standards for K-12 education. These dimensions include the following outcomes:

  • Students will develop an understanding of the characteristics and broad scope of engineering.
  • Students will be able to be creative and innovative in their thought process and actions.
  • Students will develop an understanding that engineering is an ethical human endeavor that addresses the needs of a global society.
  • Students will be able to investigate and analyze the impact of engineering on a global society.

Common Preconceptions

Engineering and Engineers

Students have little to no knowledge about what engineers do or to the range of engineering careers open to them. They rarely know anyone who is an engineer unless that person is a relative. Perceptions of what engineers do are limited to planning, designing, building, fixing, and repairing things. Engineers are also perceived as male and never female. Engineers who work with computers are viewed as hackers. All engineers are viewed as lacking social qualities.


Students also have preconceptions of technology. They see technology as limited primarily to computers and related to electronic devices. They do not see such simple artifacts as zippers or forks as technological innovations that were groundbreaking in their time. Nor, do they see the built world as filled with engineering innovations that have served the needs of society.

Addressing the Needs of a Global Society

Among female students in particular, the strongest preconception is that engineering does not meet the needs of society and as a consequence students do not choose engineering careers. This naïve conception is strongly linked to the lack of knowledge about what engineers do and the range of engineering careers available to them. Furthermore, since conceptions of engineering are limited to building, fixing, and repairing things, as well as designing and planning, students’ views of engineering and its reach is local rather than global. Female students are also more likely than males to describe the products of engineering as having just as many negative impacts on society such as bombs, as positive impacts.

Investigate and Analyze the Impact of Engineering on a Global Society

Most people in the United States do not recognize the role of engineers in developing new forms of energy or drugs or even working in space. These activities are seen as the work of scientists. Furthermore, they do not understand that engineers work with scientists to create new technologies. In a survey of the International Technology Education Association, when students look at large-scale problems such as those relating to the environment, they tend to focus their analysis on the scientific aspects of such problems and ignore the ethical, economic, legal, and social components. A narrow focus in analyzing problems that impact a global society, attributing the work of engineers to scientists and misunderstanding the role of technology must first be addressed before students can investigate and analyze the impact of engineering on a global society.

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