Aboriginal Engineering for an enduring civilisation

Macquarie University
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Proceedings, AAEE2017 Conference, 2017
Issue Date:
Full metadata record
CONTEXT Engineering is a set of practices and principles evidenced in the artefacts of human cultures. In the 21st century there is growing understanding of the implications of this for supporting innovation and sustainable practices. This paper specifically considers how Aboriginal cultures employed engineering principles prior to European arrival. Taking into account this combination of engineering principles, this paper introduces the next steps towards a framework for integrating Indigenous knowledge into the engineering curriculum. The aim is to provide a guide for engineering educators towards establishing and/or strengthening their engagement with local community knowledge holders to explore the principles and practices as well as teaching strategies of Indigenous technical knowledge. PURPOSE Provide guidance in what is involved in developing processes for integrating Aboriginal/Indigenous engineering knowledge into engineering education, including provision of resources to contribute to revising our knowledge of Australia’s technological history. APPROACH Various approaches are being used to integrate indigenous and non- Indigenous engineering knowledges. These include locally sourced projects and encouragement of Indigenous students to become engineers. Integration of indigenous knowledge, frameworks and protocols into engineering education is increasing our understanding of the impact of engineering designed for specific cultures and values. This work provides engineering educators with an exploration of Indigenous engineering practices in pre-European times; and introductory work on assisting collaborative efforts between communities and engineering educators through: • exploring how engineering education might be enhanced by incorporating knowledge about the civilisation occupying this continent prior to European arrival • identifying sources of evidence for Aboriginal engineering, and relating this to engineering education to develop cultural sensitivity and sustainability knowledge in engineering education • considering how such evidence as located in artefacts, concepts and physical contexts, can be used to expand the scope of engineering education programs across different disciplines RESULTS These include protocols for engagement with Indigenous communities and suggestions for understanding Indigenous knowledge relating to Engineering and IT topics. We are in the process of developing an app to provide information to universities using location-based information. We also envisage this may also help tourist groups wishing to study aspects of indigenous knowledge and technology. CONCLUSIONS Indigenous and non-indigenous engineering have many features in common, but until recently Indigenous knowledge has been ignored or denigrated. Developing ways to link awareness of similarities across engineering practices will provide practical and enjoyable experiences for students and educators, enabling them to expand their awareness of issues concerning sustainability, communication and cultural understanding in a diverse world.
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