Educating the responsible engineer; socially responsible design and sustainability in the curriculum.
Engineering should serve the community in a socially responsible and sustainable manner. In order to achieve this, the engineering profession must progress from the role of technical service provider, to a profession that leads change through understanding of the human, environmental, societal and cultural challenges and the consequences of professional activity. Environmental and social considerations need to be integrated early into the product development process; as early as in the education of the next designers and design engineers. Tomorrow's engineering graduates will need not only awareness, but an embedded ethical philosophy that forms the foundation of their engineering learning. Designing for our complex global societies requires cultural understanding and anticipation of future human needs. Product design teams must address the societal needs of those at the base of the pyramid, rather than the material needs of first world consumers. The needs of those in developing nations, the other 90 percent, should be the target of a new engineering conscience, led by pedagogical change within engineering faculties. Sustainability and socially responsible design will be only achieved by a paradigm shift which directs the way business, communities and individuals make decisions that contribute to the realisation of broad social goals. The Product Design Engineering program at Swinburne University of Technology seeks to contribute to this new paradigm by integrating sustainability and socially responsible design throughout the engineering curriculum. As engineering and design educators we have the opportunity to drive a new pedagogy and determine attitudinal change through well considered curricula.