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Engaging Students in the Social Context of the Engineering Profession Through a Mock Congressional Hearing Exercise

[+] Author Affiliations
Patrick J. Cunningham

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, IN

Paper No. IMECE2008-67302, pp. 3-11; 9 pages
  • ASME 2008 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 9: Engineering Education and Professional Development
  • Boston, Massachusetts, USA, October 31–November 6, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4870-8 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3840-2
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


This research project investigates the benefit of a mock Congressional hearing exercise in facilitating students’ reflections on the role of engineers and scientists in society and government and how technological solutions are shaped by society and the government. The benefit is assessed by student survey responses and by instructor experiences throughout the exercise. The hypothesis is that the mock Congressional hearing will prove to be an active and engaging exercise that will result in greater awareness of the interaction of science and technology with society, greater confidence processing these issues, and increased knowledge of where to look for information on contemporary technological issues. In evaluation of the exercise, students noted that their awareness of the social and environmental dimensions of technical issues improved. They also indicated that they were introduced to several governmental websites for Congress and the agencies relevant to their topic. However, students did not feel that the mock hearings contributed significantly to their confidence in performing analysis of current technical issues facing society. Improvements for future mock hearing exercises, such as tying it more closely to the course content, are also presented.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME
Topics: Students



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