By Jessica H.
Taking the Engineering for Social Change course has really reminded me why I chose to be an engineering student in the first place. It is easy to get overwhelmed when you are taking five technical courses every semester, and it is easy to lose track of the big picture. Engineers have the power to use their skills to change the world and make it a better place.
Engineers, whether they know it or not, have a huge impact on social change. From the first automobile to the first cellphone, technology changes the way humans interact within society. After taking this course, I have become more aware of the impacts my engineering decisions could make and the responsibility I have to make sure those impacts are positive.
The guest lecturers were a great part of this course. It was nice to see both professors and practicing engineers dedicate their time to issues regarding social change. I plan on working full-time at a for-profit organization, so it was nice to see that there are other ways to get involved with philanthropy than working full-time at a non-profit. Giving back has always been a part of my life, and it was nice to see how it can tie in with my degree and my career choice.
The ISCC project was a really neat assignment. I had no idea how bad the issue of food security really was, so it was an eye-opening experience to analyze the issue in a city so close to home (Baltimore). I had no prior knowledge of food accessibility and food deserts, and this project helped me learn a lot about the issues in a short amount of time. It was also exciting to work with my peers to come up with an innovative solution using what we have learned as engineering students. It was very similar to a lot of other engineering projects, but it felt more meaningful because we were doing it to solve a real problem for people in need.
The student-driven decision-making and grant-making process was unlike anything else I had ever experienced in my coursework here at the university. Although some topics were highly debatable, the decision-making went smoothly for the most part. It was a very intellectual environment where everyone was truly engaged and wanted to hear what other students had to say. I learned a lot from these conversations: not only about different non-profits, but also how to communicate my opinions in a logical way and listen to the opinions of others with an open mind.
I would recommend this class to all engineering students. This course provides something so necessary to human life that is absent in all the other engineering courses I have taken. This course reminded me of the human aspect of my career, and how I should constantly be thinking about the social impact of my decisions as well as my actions.