Integrating Social Justice and Engineering: Transforming Engineering Education from Within

Juan Lucena

This talk is part of the GVU Brown Bag Seminar Series brought to you by the Institute for People and Technology at Georgia Tech.

Speaker: Juan Lucena, Professor and Director of Humanitarian Engineering (HE) Undergraduate Programs at the Colorado School of Mines

Date: 2023-10-05 12:30 pm

Technology Square Research Building (TSRB, 1st Floor Ballroom)
85 Fifth Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30308

The Humanitarian Engineering (HE) program at the Colorado School of Mines (Mines) has been transforming what it means to be an engineer by, among other things, integrating social justice into the engineering curriculum, including its humanities/social science courses, design projects, and, perhaps more importantly, its engineering science core. The HE program has challenged engineering faculty and students to re-think “what counts as engineering” by considering areas historically unattended by engineering (e.g., homelessness, immigrants, indigenous populations, low-wage workers, etc.) as worthy of engineering problem definition and solution. Dr. Lucena will share the Mines experience in rendering social justice visible throughout the engineering curriculum without compromising its integrity. He will focus on the different spaces within and around engineering curricula where integration can occur.

Juan is Professor and Director of Humanitarian Engineering (HE) Undergraduate Programs at the Colorado School of Mines. Juan obtained a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech and two BS in Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His books include Engineering and Sustainable Community Development (with Jen Schneider and Jon Leydens, Morgan & Claypool, 2010), Engineering Education for Social Justice: Critical Explorations and Opportunities (Springer, 2013), and Engineering Justice: Transforming Engineering Education and Practice (with Jon Leydens, IEEE-Wiley, 2017). As an engineering student, he learned the strengths and limitations of engineering assumptions and methods for engaging communities, particularly those historically neglected by engineering. He has dedicated his career to educate and study engineers to view engineering education and practice as sites for important societal change that can be studied and transformed for the wellbeing of communities, social justice, and sustainability. The main driver for his teaching and research is to challenge students to ask, what is engineering for?