Science fiction in the engineering classroom to help teach basic concepts and promote the profession

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Abstract

Although science fiction has appeared in science and physics education for many years, the genre has not been widely used to augment engineering education. Considering the potential for science fiction to help illustrate many common engineering concepts, while at the same time challenging the students to think about the many possibilities of design and technology, this exclusion represents a loss of a valuable resource. In order to begin utilizing this valuable resource, a new freshman-level course was developed that uses science fiction films and literature to illustrate and teach basic engineering concepts. Central to the course delivery is "poking fun" at the disobedience of the laws of nature and misuse of engineering while at the same time teaching the correct behaviors. By illustrating basic engineering concepts in this fashion, students can hopefully develop lasting mental pictures of the way things function and the complexities of design. These images can in turn, help the students with core mechanics classes such as statics and dynamics, as well as help the creative design process. Moreover, by highlighting the valuable role engineering plays in transferring science theory to usable technology, the discussions may also help create a positive image of the profession that could aid recruitment and retention. Finally, the genre can also be used to illustrate the implications of technology and society, along with the many ethical considerations of engineering.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-423
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Volume91
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)

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