The current plan for the Thomas Moore program would be to offer a ‘society’ certificate, which would require students to take a certain number of starred courses within their curriculum and complete society projects within them as well as an extra three credit course. I will be helping mostly with the three credit course, but also putting in ideas for the starred courses.
To start, I looked through the learning objectives and goals along with the list of competencies and evaluation criteria of CSE to see what would be best to extract for the three credit course. Right away one sentence in the second objective jumped out at me “enabling engineers to develop solutions, applications and tools that truly meet the needs of end users and organizations”. To me this is the most valuable aspect of being an engineer and what engineers need to learn past the technical skills. The objective goes on to state that this is for users and organizations in the social profit sector. I believe that although this is the focus of the certificate, the skills that the engineers will learn by understanding their users can be applied to any form of engineering, inside and out of the social profit sector. I also believe this should be in the marketing and taught in the course so that the students are aware of how this can be used. I believe this should be the focus of the 3 credit Thomas Moore course, especially because I believe this is how Olin has given me a step forward in the engineering world.
Another piece that I believe is very important was mentioned in the third learning objective of CSE: “facilitate the implementation and sustainability of the developed technology, accentuating concepts of economic valorization, cultural, legal and environmental aspects”. In the first meeting of my masters level Robotics course, the professor asked the students who had heard of an acronym that mentioned the legal, ethical, economic and environmental aspects to the engineering. I was blown away by how few people raised their hands to acknowledge that they recognized it. When designing, these concepts should be held near and dear in order to make sure your product fits into a correct place in society. This should also be a learning objective in the undergraduate course because it directly relates to everything they will be working on in the future.
From the learning outcomes I also extracted a few items, firstly interacting with users. I think it is very natural for Belgian engineering students to be shy and not want to get out and meet the users, but it is critical in understanding how to best design for them. This brings me to the second point, which was taking properly into account the stakeholders. This is critical for ensuring that the what is designed is acceptable for everyone involved.
The third learning objective that I identified as important is a learner can develop solutions and tools. I found this very interesting. The first half, developing solutions, is one of the definitions of engineering, so it makes perfect sense that it is there. The second half is developing tools. I find this a very useful skill in the design process. Not only do you need to be able to make the solution, but you need to be able to make the tools that can help you get there. There are many tools used in UCD, including codesign, personas and journeys. To be able to develop these tools and use them effectively is a very good learning objective to have.
The final learning objective that I identified was the ability to communicate acquired knowledge and results in a clear manner. In order to work with clients, suggest ideas and defend your thoughts, you must be able to clearly communicate. I think that this learning objective makes all of the other once valuable and should be emphasized in the three credit course.