What makes a good engineer? – USC Viterbi

USC Viterbi senior Ashley Dunning (Photo/Marc Ballon)

What makes a good engineer? What responsibilities to society do engineers have? How can an engineer find purpose in life? How can engineering become more inclusive?

A group of 18 USC Viterbi students, with the help of two graduate student moderators, tackled these and other big questions on Thursday, April 14 during the first series of Good Life discussions, a new initiative of the recently launched program Engineering in Society Program.

For an hour in the Ming Hsieh Council Chamber, the students engaged in intense dialogue with each other, exploring issues too often overlooked in the classroom, including diversity, class, technological dependence and ethics. They listened attentively and politely, learning as much as teaching.

Ashley Dunning, a biomedical engineering graduate, said good engineers shouldn’t just solve problems. “It’s not just about finding a solution, but a solution that does more good than harm to the environment and society,” she said.

Aaron Cruz, a senior specializing in chemical engineering with a focus on petroleum, said, “Engineers have to think about cause and effect. The ultimate goal of engineering is to do good.

That ethics continually appeared during the Good Life is no coincidence, said Martha Townsendthe creator of the initiative.

“I hope students find the conversations lively and engaging,” she said. “I hope they will be inspired to think about the importance of their future work and the impact it could have on the world. I hope these discussions will connect them with others who may also be searching for meaning.

“The good life builds on Aristotle’s notion of ‘the good life,’ in which citizens cultivate reason by engaging in scientific inquiry and thoughtful discussion and working toward the happiness that comes from living a life of virtue,” Townsend added.

Students at the first series of Good Life talks (Photo/Marc Ballon)

Students at the first series of Good Life talks (Photo/Marc Ballon)

USC Viterbi plans to sponsor three Good Life Talks per semester, with approximately 20 engineering students per session.

In an effort to “change the conversation about engineering education,” USC Viterbi recently launched the Engineering in Society program, an extension of the engineering writing program. Engineering in Society wants to equip USC Viterbi students with the ethical and communication skills necessary to thrive in an ever-accelerating and rapidly changing world.

Another key element of the Engineering in Society program is the Viterbi Ethos Projectwhose first phase is partially financed by the Coalition for Life Transformative Education.

The Ethos project seeks to develop the character, identity and purpose of engineering students. It currently includes the Good Life, as well as a reimagined Freshman Academy; student-generated engineering podcasts; and presentations by USC Viterbi students to local schools 6-12.

The Good Life and Other Projects and Courses Add a Humanities-Based Quality to an Education at USC Viterbi, Director of Engineering in Society Steve Bucher mentioned. “With the EiS program, we hope to have a unique curricular and extracurricular presence in Viterbi’s university culture,” he said. “Students need opportunities like ‘Good Life’ as part of their intellectual and ethical development.

“While we can’t necessarily teach them to always make the right choices, we can show through offerings like this that such discussions are valuable in an engineer’s education,” he said. added.

Adam Novak, a junior double majoring in computer science and East Asian languages ​​and cultures, and president of Shift SC, a new club that promotes “human-centered and socially responsible technology,” said he considered the Good Life a great addition to USC Viterbi. extracurricular offer.

“I found that incredible. This is exactly the kind of talks we need more of,” he said. “We can learn from each other, and I find it so inspiring to hear everyone’s thoughts on technology and its role in the world.”

Posted on April 29, 2022

Last updated on April 29, 2022

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