American Society of Civil Engineers

Knowledge Strategy to Incorporate Public Health Principles in Engineering Education and Practice

by Y. R. Filion, (corresponding author), (Asst. Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Queen’s Univ., Kingston ON, Canada K7L 3N6 E-mail: and K. R. Hall, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Queen’s Univ., Kingston ON, Canada K7L 3N6. E-mail:

Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, Vol. 135, No. 2, April 2009, pp. 81-89, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: There is evidence that engineering products, processes, systems, and infrastructures are causing human illness in industrialized societies. A possible cause is the technical focus of engineering education and practice and their lack of emphasis on human health considerations in design and decision making. In this paper, the knowledge strategy of Vanderburg is proposed as the pedagogical basis for training undergraduate engineers in identifying and understanding human health problems to preventively address these problems in design and decision making. The knowledge strategy motivates changes to the traditional engineering curriculum to broaden the vantage point of engineering design and decision making, and to integrate principles from public health fields into design and decision making to prevent human illness. The import of public health principles from relevant life science and social science fields for inclusion in engineering education is discussed. The paper is concluded by discussing what public health contributions an enhanced engineering profession can make to industrialized countries.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Public health
Engineering education
Social factors
Professional practice