2012 ASEE Annual Conference, San Antonio, Texas.

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Increasingly, engineering design educators articulate wanting to embed social sustainability into student projects. Some educators observe that global calls, such as the Grand Challenges of Engineering and the Millennium Development Goals, foster social consciousness while supporting open innovation environments. Using a broad social goal like “poverty alleviation” to frame a course design challenge can help students connect engineering design processes to messages that proclaim engineering as a socially engaged profession [1]. Yet scaffolding student learning in engineering design for poverty alleviation should involve more than a simple directive to create a device for a poor person. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how defining poverty as systematic failures to achieve well being objectives scaffolds learning for both students and faculty members engaged in design for poverty alleviation.Theoretical frameworks of well being [2] explain the program evolution found in Ohio Northern University’s freshman capstone design course while offering valuable insights for further course improvements. As the professors piloted this innovative course [3, 4], the professors discovered a need to use design personas and community profiles rather than statistical income measures of poverty. Further, the capstone course facilitated greater student interest in implementing designs for various community partners. Researchers in development studies use well being frameworks to guide participatory data collection and participatory analysis required to produce contextually rich community profiles. The participatory analysis includes community members and development practitioners in order to identify priority projects that will improve the community’s quality of life. As Ohio Northern University moves towards more active community engagement,theoretical frameworks of well being can be used to outline best practices for engaging with communities at all stages in the design process.This paper identifies how well being frameworks 1) guide student classroom learning and 2)provide cautionary insights for community-based fieldwork. Well being frameworks have potential to bring best practices associated with community engagement into classroom settings,broadening student access to innovative community-centered engineering design methodologies.This unique international development methodology [5] centers on how various designs foster responsible well being by minimizing harms; thus, well being frameworks could inform social evaluations of engineering design.


2012, ASEE

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