Social Science Emphasis in Engineering Education

by Dan H. Pletta, (F.ASCE), Univ. Prof. Emeritus; Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., Blacksburg, Va.,

Serial Information: Engineering Issues: Journal of Professional Activities, 1975, Vol. 101, Issue 4, Pg. 509-519

Document Type: Journal Paper


Education of engineering professionals for the future superindustrial state requires greater emphasis on economical/political/sociological subjects in current engineering curricula so that graduates will be able to communicate with experts from these disciplines and avoid shortening the life span of products, structures, or systems caused by sociological or economical failures associated with such designs. Examples are cited. A post-baccalaureate program of 2 to 4 years, including internships, is recommended to educate these professional broadly educated cultured experts. Loan funds or Federal Assistance Programs requiring subsequent government service are suggested. These future leaders could: (1) Fill leadership roles in industrial, governmental, or political arenas; (2) become advocates of the public's interest whenever technology involved the public health and safety; and (3) assume an adversary stance against overzealous lobbyists — and their corporate or bureaucratic masters — whenever their technological proposals wasted the public's funds or its material resources.

Subject Headings: Engineering education | Systems engineering | Social factors | Economic factors | Occupational safety | Curricula | Lifeline systems | Structural systems

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