ENGINEERING IN THE COMMUNITY: CRITICAL
CONSCIOUSNESS AND ENGINEERING EDUCATION
Helena TrbušićFaculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture - University of Zagreb
|INDECS 12(2), 108-118, 2014
Full text available here.
Received: 15 February 2014
The continually changing, contemporary global society has been placing new demands on the
engineering profession. The complexity of today's environmental, social and economic context has prompted engineering
educators to call for a general reform in engineering education. While the common theme among this professional group is
the necessity of reforming the engineering curriculum, how this should be done, and which changes are needed, is still a
matter of contention. Non-technical content in engineering curricula has been implemented in order to address the perceived
lack in competences when it comes to social or "soft-skills". However, certain proponents of reform, e.g. S. Beder, E.
Conlon and H. Zandvoort [1-3], have voiced concerns regarding the focus on "soft-skills" and management competencies on the
one hand, and a certain disregard for a broader understanding of non-technical knowledge for engineers on the other. This
broader understanding implies teaching engineering students to take into consideration the relevant social context and
contributing to the community in their daily practice of engineering.
The first part of this paper deals with the mentioned contentions within the engineering professional community. As an answer to the described dilemmas, the paper explores the necessities and possibilities of incorporating critical thinking into the engineering curriculum. The paper proposes a tentative implementation of P. Freire's humanist education in engineering education . The possibilities of the pedagogy of critical consciousness have the capacity to move beyond the mentioned divisions by merging practical social skills (i. e. "soft skills") with involvement in the community.
engineering education, engineering ethics, critical consciousness
JEL: I21, I23