Political Action and Implicit Knowledge in Engineering Education: A Case Study

DS 78: Proceedings of the 16th International conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE14), Design Education and Human Technology Relations, University of Twente, The Netherlands, 04-05.09.2014

Year: 2014
Editor: Erik Bohemia, Arthur Eger, Wouter Eggink, Ahmed Kovacevic, Brian Parkinson, Wessel Wits
Author: Bromberg, Sergio; Polo, Viviana
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1Universidad San Buenaventura Cali – Faculty of Engineering, 2Universidad San Buenaventura Cali – Faculty of Architecture, Arts and Design
Section: Social Aspects of Design Education
Page(s): 130-134
ISBN: 978-1-904670-56-8


The educational act is a political act, where information and data are just a fraction of what should be taught. Indeed, there has been much literature on the subject of promoting creativity, teamwork, management, communications, and ethics (so called “soft-skills”) in engineering curricula. This knowledge might be as important as technical knowledge. Some authors report experiences where this issue has been approached by incorporating specific courses on these subjects in the curriculum. This strategy belittles the role of the implicit curriculum in addition to explicit curriculum. The Multimedia Engineering program at Universidad San Buenaventura - Cali, a blend between engineering, design and the creative arts, is a program where these skills play a particularly important role. First, in the sense that creativity is a fundamental component in arts, and second, in the sense that the program’s graduates will be responsible for the future uses of technology, and as such they should be aware of their role of promoters of social change. Through a case-study in the development of a robotic-art installation, we suggest that teamwork, ethics, and emotional knowledge are better “taught” through an implicit curriculum and that “soft-skills” may not be that soft. Structural changes in the educational act, including physical spaces, number of students per teacher and class duration may be needed to implement pedagogical models that incorporate these skills.

Keywords: Engineering education, teamwork, heterarchy, political duties, collaborative programming


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