A Difference-Making Class

By Sarp H.

Walt Disney once said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” This is the mindset that I had while registering for this class. This was my first semester at the University of Maryland, so I had no idea what to expect. I came from Cecil College, a small local community college where the maximum class size was about 20 students. I never heard of engineering elective before then, so I was excited for what was in store for the semester.

During the first day of class, I had no idea what to expect. I did little research before scheduling this class, I decided to just go for it. When Mr. Hazelwood stated that we will donating $10,000 to the non-profit organization that wins, I thought it was a joke at first. But as the class went on, I realized he was not making this up. During the second day of class, we started to talk about philanthropists throughout history and how important philanthropy is. That is when I made the connection of how important this class is. As a class, we are going to be able to make an impact on a non-profit organization so they can spread their efforts in to reducing a type of trash/pollution in the United States. Philanthropic efforts can cause a positive chain reaction that can impact not just the area the non-profit organization is working with, but other areas that are influenced by the problem.

Another part of Engineering for a Social Change that stood out to me was the long-term grant making process. This grant making process was definitely new to me. Interacting with a non-profit organization really opens your eyes and makes you realize that there are people willing to devote their whole career towards their non-profits goals. In some ways, it makes you want to join them and work for them because of how passionate they are, but then you have to realize that this is only a school project, so you will do the best you can to make them win the $10,000 cash prize.

This class is very important to engineering students. The engineering curriculum is basically just technical classes, where you learn a new topic, get homework on the new topic for practice, and once you practice enough, you get tested on this topic. This class is different compared to the core classes you take for your major. It introduces the social aspect of engineering and how it can impact the community you live in. This class also teaches about not only the positive impacts engineering has on the world, but the negative impacts that engineering has on the world as well. All engineering students should be required to take this class because as technology rapidly increases, the demand for the new technology will also increase. So, where does that put the old technology created in the past? Ending up in a landfill somewhere? Sitting in a drawer at home? Left broken so toxic chemicals can leech into the environment? We need to prepare our youth to make sure they are prepared that if they create a certain technology, they need to be prepared for the unintended consequences that come with it.

Overall, my experience with this class was very impactful. I learned a variety of concepts that I had no idea about or I didn’t even think of before this class. From unintended consequences to the purpose of non-profit organizations, every engineer should know these concepts before entering into workforce. The engineers need to be knowledgeable of these topics so they are able to make a reasonable decision when coming to designing a project. Even though my non-profit organization did not receive the $10,000, this class was a life-changing experience and I hope whoever takes this class in the future feels the same way.

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