Teaching Technology Literacy: An Opportunity for Design Faculty?

David Ollis
Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
E-mail: ollis@eos.ncsu.edu

John Krupczak
Hope College, Holland, Michigan 49423, USA
E-mail: krupczak@hope.edu

Abstract:
The National Academy of Engineering, the National Science Foundation, and various prominent engineering faculty and administrators have pleaded over the last decade that technological literacy for non-technical majors is a topic which engineering faculty ought to provide. This paper explores the notion that design faculty are well qualified, perhaps uniquely so, to teach such courses for non- technical majors, i.e., to represent engineering and technology to the non-technical campus population. Previously we reviewed the attributes of the various groups promoting technological literacy. We showed that engineering, with its balance between theory and practice, has a distinct and highly effective perspective on technology, making engineers uniquely qualified to explain technology to the non-engineer. Here we focus on engineering design faculty as those engineers most qualified to carry out this effort. Inasmuch as design instruction is universally present on the more than 300 campuses boasting an engineering school, and each engineering department has at least one design instructor, a potential teaching faculty in excess of 1000 is identified from which to recruit future technology literacy instructors. We make the case for this novel activity as a logical component of design instruction, and argue further that such novel participation will accomplish a second goal, long sought by design instructors, namely that their profession will have an increased, and more public, visibility and appreciation. Thus, creating a cadre of design instructors as teachers of technology literacy will assist a national need and at the same time will satisfy a professional goal.

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