Collaborative Research: Assessment of Product Archaeology as a Platform for Contextualizing Engineering Design

Project: Research project

Project Details


Many engineering programs struggle to meet the accreditation requirement that all engineering students have 'the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.' As a result, engineering students receive meaningful contextual experiences in a piecemeal fashion and graduate with a lack of concrete competencies that bridge knowledge and practice in the global world in which they live and work. By considering products as designed artifacts with a history rooted in their development, the product archaeology framework combines concepts from archaeology with advances in cyber-enhanced product dissection to implement pedagogical innovations that address the significant educational gap. With an archaeological mindset, students approach product dissection with the task of evaluating and understanding a product's (and its designers') global, societal, economic and environmental context and impact. These hands-on, inductive learning activities require students to move beyond rote knowledge to hone their engineering judgment, extend and refine their knowledge, and apply their knowledge in meaningful ways to realistic challenges. This pedagogical framework thus provides students with formal activities to think more broadly about their professional roles as engineers. This project, which is a collaboration among 6 universities, focuses on assessing the learning outcomes of exercises developed within the product archaeology framework. By documenting the implementation characteristics of the exercises at each school (for example, is the course a required or elective course, how many students are enrolled, is it a design or analysis course, etc.) and assessing the learning outcomes both quantitatively and qualitatively, the project is developing strong evidence of what factors enable engineering students to develop an understanding of the broader impacts of their decisions.

Effective start/end date9/1/128/31/14


  • National Science Foundation: $64,982.00


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