As these global issues increase in complexity, so do their solutions. With this in mind, UGA is committed to training engineers who understand contributions from other disciplines and who comprehend a problem’s cultural and social implications.
Walther frames it this way, “Without exception, these challenges require us to work with different kinds of people, and we need engineers to be able to navigate these spaces. Thinking this way could change the face of how engineering works in practice, creating a different type of engineer who works with and for the people.”
Developing this approach to educating engineers is part of a broader effort in the College of Engineering to create a culture around educational innovation. The Engineering Education Transformations Institute was established in 2017 to fuse fundamental engineering education research with teaching innovations.
Not only is approach preparing future engineers to navigate complex social and cultural spaces, but it could also open the doors to a more diverse industry, not only in gender, race, and ethnicity but also in ways of thinking about the world.
“More diverse groups could participate in and enrich this discipline, transforming the role engineering plays in addressing 21st-century challenges,” Walther says. “When I ask students early on in their degree why they want to be an engineer, they say they want to save the world. Hopefully, my work will prepare them to do just that.”