Filling the Void of Engineering Leadership Management Skills in Higher Education of Sustainable Product

Designers

Proceedings of the International Symposium on
Sustainable Systems and Technologies, v4 (2016)

Towards Improved Sustainability Literacy and Leadership
Management Skills in Higher Education of Sustainable Product
Designers
Nelson, Claire (1) The Futures Forum, United States of America
Rotter, Sandy (2) Rotter Engineering, United States of America

Abstract
Engineers have a social responsibility to accelerate global sustainability through enhancing the
sustainability literacy and leadership management lifelong learning skills for both current
practicing professionals as well as future engineers. Sustainability literacy can be gained
through improved curriculum design and professional requirements. While the forces shaping
sustainability leadership include the capacity for self-reflection over time through challenges and
setbacks, and unlocking personal courage to lead change, achievements that educators can
also instill through a curriculum. For practicing engineers, it is proposed that this might be
accomplished through certification courses which include simulations or coaching style modules
designed to allow practical development of leadership skills. For current engineering students
the opportunities to address this through the required inclusion of sustainability education is a
strong possibility, as well as the modification of existing internship practices to address the
leadership challenges they may face. In the case of undergraduate student, the challenges and
opportunities that arise through co-op or internship experiences can be designed so as to
enhance sustainable leadership learning. Indeed, such student challenges could provide
opportunities to study cognitive dissonance in order to expand sustainability education efficacy.
Looking through the lens of the industrial engineering community, the paper will examine
current state of the art of teaching sustainability with a view to creating synergies across all
other engineering disciplines.

Proceedings of the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technologies (ISSN 2329-9169) is
published annually by the Sustainable Conoscente Network. Jun-Ki Choi and Annick Anctil, co-editors 2016.
ISSSTNetwork@gmail.com.
Copyright © 2016 by Nelson, Claire, Rotter, Sandy, Licensed under CC-BY 3.0.
Cite as:
Title of paper Proc. ISSST, Nelson, Claire, Rotter, Sandy, Doi information v4 (2016)

Filling the Void of Engineering Leadership Management Skills in Higher Education of Sustainable
Product Designers

Introduction
A review of ABET requirements reveal that they are currently undertaking a review to make
some element of sustainability a requirement. A review of undergraduate engineering programs
found that very few that require sustainability course work. The global engineering fraternity
(World Federation of Engineering Organization) realizes the need for sustainability literacy as a
key capability across all engineering disciplines. American engineering educators (ASEE) also
recognize that they have a social responsibility to instill engineering sustainable leadership
management lifelong learning skills in our future engineers. We will use SurveyMonkey to
conduct a survey of Industrial Engineers (Professors, Students and Practicing Engineers) to
determine what is the current status of sustainability literacy and leadership capacity. We also
propose looking at engineering co-op and intern student’s cognitive dissonance as they face of
engineering sustainability and resilience conflicts in the workplace. Today’s students are faced
with a daily barrage of macro cognitive dissonance dilemmas to consider, and not a few simple
binary decisions as in the past, such as deciding what profession to enter. The fact is that the
average U.S. worker will now have many careers over their lifetime. Leadership grows from
self-reflection over time through challenges, personal courage, setbacks that educators can
instill through a team curriculum. The long-run goal of this area of research y is to identify
metrics and means to survey current University courses and curriculum's content ability to meet
engineering sustainable leadership management concepts and needs.

Hypothesis
We have reviewed academic papers calling for Universities to require engineering sustainability
courses for a long time. Engineering profession has set goals that are still not commonly
accepted (Alexandra Heeney, Jason Foster, University of Toronto, Canada).
We are proposing a methodology to uncover reasons why universities have not made across
the board engineering sustainability courses required by co-op/intern student's cognitive
dissonance about their work. Many research papers focus on end user cognitive dissonance
behavior towards sustainability and not cognitive dissonance conflicts during product design.
(Mustaquim 2014)
Cognitive Dissonance Balancing Rationalization Scale
(Common Good Goals: vs. the Self-interest Goals)

(C. Nelson et al.)

Investigative Method
We are starting with a general engineering sustainability survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/create/survey/preview?r=true&sm=YNbWvNG9_2Blohfx_2Byre
dcnYpTxp_2F03eWh2JEjEXjyN7VnpiJTjMHSGsdKK0kIyn0s1NeatbEqeyqo1OqSHL8_2FZw_3
D_3D

Researchers have cataloged sustainability class offerings for different engineering disciplines
(Storey, Meredith, 2014) and (Nazzal D, 2014)
We are surveying educators/academic/professors, practitioners/professionals and students from
the industrial engineering community on courses aimed that at promoting awareness of
sustainability at varying levels of details and requirements. This survey is designed to highlight
themes by thematic analysis for further study. These survey questions will include the locus of
control, engineering discipline degree, engineering work market, thoughts on sustainability.
Co-op/intern students keeping a journal about their work and focusing on writing on any
sustainability conflicts that come up will facilitate locally anonymized data collection Data will be
collected by having Co-op/intern students before and after working report about ongoing team
processes and experiences assignment writing in a journal and answering a survey.

Filling the Void of Engineering Leadership Management Skills in Higher Education of Sustainable Product
Designers

Libby Osgood, Wayne Peters, Stephen Champion 2015, page 035-2

The (Libby 2015, page 035-4) paper also points out that student’s first two projects do not
incorporate sustainability, to avoid overwhelming the students with too many objectives in the
project We hypothesis the experience gap coincides with engineering sustainability cognitive
dissidence.
Pronoun analysis can be used to quantify the assignment writing in a journal and survey results.
To overcome the difficulty of implementing an IRB reviewed anonymized student journals and
survey questions we are looking at a decentralized model of local analysis with a standard
protocol.
IRB survey requirements will bolster our proposed study paradigm of having professors give
students assignments that they will analyze locally and anonymize the data.
To measure the efficacy of our paradigm, we ask engineering co-op and intern students will
write a paper before/after their on their engineering sustainability social responsibility. They will
also answer a questionnaire on their understanding engineering sustainability. We will use
LIWC text analysis software http://liwc.wpengine.com/ to compare before/after statements along
with before/after questionnaires.
We can use happiness as a reference signal in our proposed co-op/intern writing assignments.
Define cognitive dissonance of engineering and sustainability as the difference between one’s
personal goals and one’s career goals.
Students are asked to write down their different views from their leader(s) and the group as they
occur and later reflect on how they resolved the conflict.

(C. Nelson et al.)

By following by John Dewey’s "reflective thinking" over the time students describe their conflicts.
Show the differences in different engineering disciplines. What are the roadblocks for other
engineering schools to require a sustainability course?
Sustainability conflicts for project designers can be visualized through the tree swing
organizational situation metaphor:
What marketing suggested - What management approved - As designed by engineering

What was manufactured - As maintenance installed it - What the customer wanted

.

Discussion

Testing by semester or quarter is not an accurate predicting outcome metric for engineering
sustainability and resilience education. Longer term feedback from practicing engineers and
scientists will yield more accurate results of acquired practicing working knowledge than an in
class room test.
University engineering sustainability courses need feedback from students beyond static test
scores as they traverse the workplace. Tests are challenged in predicting what the student will
do in the future. The question is there a sustainability student ‘Marshmallow Test’?
University alumni associations can aid in this effort to improve future engineering sustainability
courses.

Filling the Void of Engineering Leadership Management Skills in Higher Education of Sustainable Product
Designers

Further Work
As a future endeavor a twitter app in addition to engineering co-op and intern student’s
assignments.
Similar to the University of North Carolina App for postpartum depression we propose to ask
questions like:
Please elaborate on how you feel about your work has contributed to sustainability.
Are you feeling conflicted working on a project that you feel should be more sustainable? If so
please elaborate below.
Has your sustainability ethics conflicted with your work? If so please elaborate below.
Do you feel comfortable talking about how your work is contributing to a more sustainable
world? If so please elaborate below.

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(C. Nelson et al.)

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