Engineering and Technology in Society

Curriculum Guideline

Effective Date:
Course Code
ENGR 1100
Engineering and Technology in Society
Science & Technology
Start Date
End Term
Not Specified
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Contact Hours

Lecture: 4 hours/week

Method(s) Of Instruction
Learning Activities
  • Lectures
  • In class group discussion
  • In class case study analysis
  • Group projects
  • Poster presentations
  • Possible online assignments and discussion
Course Description
This course is an introduction to the practice of engineering, surveying its history and its current state. The social, political and economic aspects of engineering decisions, as well as the influence of technology on society, will be illustrated by a number of case studies. The ethical and environmental implications of the practice of engineering will also be discussed. The concepts of sustainability, environmental stewardship and engineering law are addressed.
Course Content

Students will explore the history and current state of engineering practice by analyzing engineering project case studies such as the Pyramids of Egypt, the Roman Aqueducts, the Great Wall of China, the Panama Canal and the Three Gorges Dam. This analysis will strongly emphasize the ethical, social and political aspects of engineering projects. 

As well, students will be expected to analyze present day projects such as the Trans Mountain pipeline and the BC Hydro Site C dam.

  • An Introduction to Engineering and Technology
    • The role and responsibilities of the engineer
    • The engineering profession, specializations and regulation
    • An introduction to the engineering design process
    • Project management fundamentals and tools
    • Teams, teamwork and group dynamics
    • Problem solving strategies
    • The scientific method, critical thinking and junk science
  • Engineering and Technology Throughout History
    • Engineering, science and technology in society
    • The relationship between engineering, science and technology throughout history
    • The influence of technology on society throughout history
    • Cultural, social, economic and political issues related to technological change
    • Case studies and examples of major engineering works throughout history and their influence on modern-day society
    • Case studies and examples illustrating engineering accomplishments and failures throughout history
    • The current state of engineering and the future of engineering
    • Case studies and examples of current technology such as information theory, artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Ethical Issues in Engineering
    • Ethics in engineering and the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Code of Ethics
    • Foundational ethical ideas, rights and role based ethics
    • Ethical behaviour
    • Ethical dilemmas and decision making
    • Conflicts of interest
    • Case studies and examples illustrating ethical issues, dilemmas and decision making within the context of engineering
  • Sustainability and the Environment
    • Sustainability models and the pillars of sustainability
    • Assessing sustainability and life-cycle assessments
    • Sustainable design
    • Environmental sustainability, environmental stewardship and the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Code of Ethics
    • Awareness and risk analysis of potential impacts on society and the environment over the life-cycle of engineering projects
    • Case studies and examples of sustainable design related to topics such as energy impacts and costs, plastics, water quality and air pollution
  • Professional Practice
    • An introduction to legal system and engineering law: common vs. statutory law, contracts, tort law, negligence, consumer protection statutes
    • Intellectual property and the protection of technology by law
    • Professional development and personal growth
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • explain the role of scientists, engineers, and technologists in supporting and enhancing society;
  • utilize project management concepts and tools to plan a project;
  • describe and use the engineering design process toward the completion of an engineering design project;
  • assume responsibility for their work while participating equitably and effectively as part of a team;
  • apply general scientific principles, such as the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of energy, in the context of problem solving;
  • apply scientific principles to debunk ‘junk’ science and engineering myths such as perpetual motion;
  • describe the relationship between science, engineering and technology;
  • describe the role that technology and energy play in various aspects of social life (e.g. politics, economics, and history);
  • describe the scientific, economic, social and/or energy-based motivations behind significant technological developments throughout history;
  • describe the benefits, detriments and impact of key engineering undertakings, both historical and current, on the practice of engineering and society as a whole;
  • analyze major engineering projects in terms of key resources such as cost, labour, energy parameters and implementation time;
  • describe the role that failures and disasters play in improving the practice of engineering;
  • describe the basic principles of the Engineers and Geoscientists BC Code of Ethics;
  • recognize and analyze ethical dilemmas within the context of engineering practice, and determine an appropriate and defensible course of action;
  • practice ethical behavior as a student;
  • describe the importance of sustainability to society;
  • list and describe methods used to assess sustainability;
  • list and describe examples of sustainable design;
  • identify sustainability considerations (societal, environmental, energy and economic) within engineering projects;
  • describe basic legal aspects involved in the practice of engineering;
  • describe how technology is protected in law and in practice;
  • describe the ethical and professional obligations that arise out of the development and use of technology;
  • engage in professional practice as engineering students, with awareness of their legal and moral responsibilities.
Means of Assessment

Assessment will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College Evaluation policy. The instructor will present a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester. Evaluation will be based on the following:

Research paper (individual and/or group): 30% - 40%

Design project with subsequent poster presentation (individual and/or group): 20% - 30%

In-class participation and/or exercises: 10% - 15%

In-class quizzes/tests: 15% - 30%

Total: 100%

Assessment means could include online quizzes and assignments.

Textbook Materials

Consult the Douglas College Bookstore for the latest required textbooks and materials. Example textbooks and materials may include:

  • "The Betterment of the Human Condition" by John D. Jones, current edition
  • "The Ancient Engineers" by L. Sprague De Camp, 1995 edition
  • "Engineer's Toolkit: A First Course in Engineering" by Carl Mitcham and Shannon Duval, current edition
  • "Engineers Within a Local and Global Society" by Caroline Baillie, current edition
  • "To Engineer is Human: The Role of Failure in Successful Design" by Henry Petroski, current edition
  • “Canadian Professional Engineering and Geoscience” by Gordon C. Andrews, current edition,
  • “Engineering and Technology in Society – Canada” by Jennifer Kirkey, current edition
  • "Introduction to Engineering" by Peter Ostafichuk and Carol Jaeger, current edition

ENGL 1130 or CMNS 1135 must be completed prior to OR at the same time as this course.

Which Prerequisite