Educating engineers for socially responsible solutions through design thinking

  • There is a broad international discussion about rethinking engineering education in order to educate engineers to cope with future challenges, and particularly the sustainable development goals. In this context, there is a consensus about the need to shift from a mostly technical paradigm to a more holistic problem-based approach, which can address the social embeddedness of technology in society. Among the strategies suggested to address this social embeddedness, design thinking has been proposed as an essential complement to engineering precisely for this purpose. This chapter describes the requirements for integrating the design thinking approach in engineering education. We exemplify the requirements and challenges by presenting our approach based on our course experiences at RWTH Aachen University. The chapter first describes the development of our approach of integrating design thinking in engineering curricula, how we combine it with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as well as the role of sustainability and social responsibility in engineering. Secondly, we present the course “Expanding Engineering Limits: Culture, Diversity, and Gender” at RWTH Aachen University. We describe the necessity to theoretically embed the method in social and cultural context, giving students the opportunity to reflect on cultural, national, or individual “engineering limits,” and to be able to overcome them using design thinking as a next step for collaborative project work. The paper will suggest that the successful implementation of design thinking as a method in engineering education needs to be framed and contextualized within Science and Technology Studies (STS).

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Author:Carmen Leicht-Scholten, Linda Steuer-Dankert
Parent Title (English):Design thinking in higher education: interdisciplinary encounters
Place of publication:Singapore
Document Type:Part of a Book
Year of Completion:2020
Date of the Publication (Server):2022/09/22
First Page:229
Last Page:246
Institutes:FH Aachen / Fachbereich Energietechnik