The Impact of the EWB Design Summit on the Professional Social Responsibility Attitudes of Participants

ASEE Conferences
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, 2018, 2018-June
Issue Date:
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The Engineers without Borders (EWB) Design Summit is an international educational study tour primarily for Australian undergraduate engineering students. since its inception in 2015, almost 1000 participants have experienced the two-week program, learning about human-centred design, working cross-culturally, and more generally about how engineering and technology can contribute towards creating positive change within communities. Design Summits have predominantly been held in Cambodia and India, as well as Nepal, Malaysia, Timor-Leste, and Samoa, with community-based organisations that EWB Australia already has an existing relationship with. The Design Summit program has a number of aims, including 'nurturing future development leaders' and 'embedding people-centred values and approaches in engineering education'. To evaluate how well these aims are being met, a questionnaire was adapted from existing instruments that purport to measure multi-cultural competence [1] and the perceived social responsibility of engineers [2, 3]. The results from this latter part of the questionnaire are the focus of this paper. This questionnaire was used in a pre-/post-/retention protocol with Design Summit participants. The results will be discussed in detail in the full paper. Although the analysis was confounded by a low completion rate (less than 8% of those who completed the pre-Summit questionnaire went on to also complete the 'retention' questionnaire, ∼6 months after the Summit), one finding is clear. There is a strong self-selection bias for students who participate in these programs, to have a strong sense of social responsibility. On the quantitative attitudinal questions they scored highly on these measures in the pre-Summit questionnaire, and since they topped out on these questions on the post-Summit and retention questionnaires it seems the instrument is not sensitive enough to reliably measure any attitudinal shifts that may have taken place. Pre-Summit attitudes to professional responsibility were compared over the first six rounds of the Design Summit program, to see whether there had been any measurable changes in the successive cohorts attracted to the program as it has expanded in scale. No systematic changes were observed.
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