Broadening View on Engineering

By Travis A.

This class has been such an enriching experience for me. I did not know what to expect from this class when I enrolled in it; however, I had heard really good things about it from some peers of mine. This class broadened my views on how engineering can be used in creative philanthropic ways in order to spur social change. It is imperative to understand just how one’s philanthropic venture will affect the target beneficiary community. As an engineer, the best answer or the most efficient solution does not always correlate to what is best for the community you are attempting to help.

I believe that this type of class is extremely important for engineering majors to take. The large majority of classes engineering majors take involve set problems that the students are then taught the exact methods to solve them. However, in terms of philanthropy, the problem is known but there is no cookie cutter method to solve them. This is where the engineer must make his own decisions on how to tackle the problem. However, without the knowledge gained from this course on how to evaluate the proposed solution in multiple perspectives — beyond just the engineering perspective — the engineer can easily follow an ineffective path. I plan on strongly recommending this class to my fellow peers who will have the opportunity to take it.

This class is set up in such a way where we are learning these important engineering philanthropic skills, while simultaneously putting them into practice with our ISCC group project and the overall class grant donation. I think that this is a great way to learn any concept, because you obtain the theoretical knowledge on the topic, and then see it put into action. This builds a deeper understanding on how to apply the theoretical skills that are being expanded upon in class. The only thing that I would advise to be done differently is to be timelier with assignment notification. What I mean is that oftentimes assignments or readings would be assigned last minute which is not fair to students that have multiple other classes’ responsibilities they have to set time for. With earlier notice, it will allow students to manage their time well enough so that they will not have to miss important readings. So as to not end on a negative tone, perhaps my favorite aspect of the class was the numerous guest lecturers that gave us insight onto their real life philanthropic successes, with my favorite of those being the lecture by Smeeta Hirani.

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