A Fulfilling Experience

By Umar O.

My time in the Engineering for Social Change course this semester has been an exhilarating and exciting experience. Before this course I never considered engineering or my engineering degree for anything except getting a job and making money after graduation. This class has opened my eyes and my mind to the endless ways I can impact society and bring about positive change to make the world a better place. This course was a breath of fresh air from the usual college class with midterm, finals, and information that needs to be crammed rather than learned.

As an Electrical engineer, majority of the classes I take are calculation heavy with the exception of a few labs, so I appreciated the different approach used in this course. We had a different lecturer every week. These lecturers ranged from professors, to engineers, to anyone with some interesting insight to the work we would be doing in the class. They all presented about different topics and highlighted the significance and impact to the world. This way everyone could clearly see the impact we as engineers can have on society. One of my favorite lectures all semester was the “Engineering and Culture” lecture where Professor Michael Pecht highlighted how engineering and culture differ in various parts of the world. This was my first experience learning from someone who was so well travelled and had experience working with people in different countries all over the world. This inspired me and got me interested in ways I can use my engineering degree to become a global engineer and follow the same path.

The overarching theme of this course for the semester was “Waste”. We were divided into seven groups and asked to tackle specific aspects of waste like food waste, electric waste, water pollution, and a few others. Each group had to research and find a local nonprofit organization and figure out a way to help them impact more people with their work by granting them a donation from the Neilom Foundation. This was an amazing experience for me because the closest I have ever worked with a nonprofit is by donating money. This time I got hands on experience in the planning and structure of the organization. My team and I helped come up with a plan to increase their impact and we made it to the final round of the selection process before finally losing the classroom vote.

In conclusion, I believe the experience I have gained from this course will help me in all my endeavors as an engineer. It has also showed me various ways I can apply my engineering degree to have a positive impact on society.  This course was formerly only available to Mechanical engineers but recently became open to anyone will to take it. As an Electrical engineer, I am glad this happened, and I firmly believe every engineer should have an opportunity to take a course like this.

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