Engineering education in the wake of hurricane Katrina

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Living through hurricane Katrina and its aftermath and reflecting on these experiences from technical and non-technical standpoints has led me to reconsider my thoughts and philosophy on engineering education. I present three ideas regarding engineering education pedagogy that I believe will prepare future engineers for problem-solving in an increasingly complex world. They are (1) we must practice radical (to the root) engineering, (2) we must illustrate connections between engineering and public policy, and (3) we will join the charge to find sustainable solutions to problems. Ideas for bringing each of these concepts into engineering curricula through methods such as case study, practicing broad information gathering and data interpretation, and other methods inside and outside the classroom, are discussed. I believe that the consequences of not considering the root issues of problems to be solved, and of not including policy and sustainability considerations when problems to be solved are framed will lead our profession toward well meaning but insufficient utility. Hurricane Katrina convinced me that we must do better as educators to prepare our students for engineering for a sustainable world.

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Journal of biological engineering

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