Widening the perception of engineering within society
Document typeConference lecture
PublisherActive learning for engineering education (ALE)
Rights accessOpen Access
In general, our society has no real views on or has an inappropriate idea about what engineering means. Everything related to pollution, bad usage of natural resources and human endeavours is connected to engineering. Modern society accepts the positive achievements that engineering has given us, but some people continue to hold a “negative opinion” related to technology. It is important to show and to explain to the general public that engineering generates many benefits to society. Communication is essential in our society. The Spanish programme “Ciencia en Acción” offers the possibility to link up with a general audience which has a positive approach to science, technology and engineering. This project began ten years ago from a group of scientist and engineers working in CERN, ESA and ESO who promoted a first meeting in Geneva, at CERN headquarters in order to give a message to European society by means of teachers and students. The main objectives of “Ciencia en Acción” are: • Finding new ideas to make science and technology attractive to the population • Pointing out the international character of science and technology • Promoting the interest in science for educators and students • Involving research in scientific and technologic communication activities • Showing the importance of science for progress and welfare in general. Our society continually needs more engineers and more from the engineers. If we want to change mind sets, we need to explain the applications and help the use of engineering to increase the quality of life of everybody in a sustainable manner. If we want to communicate successfully the advantages of engineering we must get close up to our audience. What are the facts that people remember best? Without doubt, the answer is “the facts involving positive emotions”. If we feel a passion related to some aspects of technology, we will remember it and we will add a positive connotation to engineering. This relationship will stay with the person for some time and it will be a cord that will not be broken easily. It is good that the experiences, and in special the first experiences with engineering, are exciting. If a child had a good feeling in the school when “making a device” with other children, he/she will continue with this positive feeling in the future. We must get the students to feel emotive in building simple devices or in solving some problems in the technological framework! School classes should offer some examples of this kind of experiences. We should use all the above mentioned strategies such as causing surprise, enthusiasm, encouraging the participation of everybody and to feel technology much more approach. These strategies can be presented in the “Ciencia en Acción” programme in order to show them to all the educational, scientific and technological communities. “Ciencia en Acción” programme is open to all the Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries and all the participants can present their contributions in any of the official languages in Spain and Portugal. The CSIC (Spanish National Research Council), INTA (National Institute for Aerospace Technology), the RSEF (Spanish Royal Physical Society), the SGE (Spanish Geologist Society) and the UNED (Spanish Open University) have annually organised “Ciencia en Acción” in order to increase the quality of science and technology communication and to promote innovation within science teaching. In the last edition of “Ciencia en Acción”, the Portuguese program “CienciaViva” (Portuguese Science Programme) has been integrated in the organisers group. This program moves Science and Engineering to the street by involving general audiences in both these areas. “Ciencia en Acción” increases in importance every year. The final event of the last edition grouped together about 15,000 people in two days. “Ciencia en Acción” is integrated in the international program “Science on Stage” organised by the EIROforum (the CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research), the EFDA (European Fusion Development Agreement), the EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory), the ESA (European Space Agency), the ESO (European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere), the ESRF (European Synchrotron Radiation Facility) and the ILL (Institute Laue-Langevin) with the financial support of the European Union. In the most recent editions of “Ciencia en Acción”, a specific category has been promoted in order to bring the general public closer to “Science, Engineering and Values”. Several proposals were presented within this new category: from university departments, from engineering teams, and from NGOs coming from Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. This modality is sponsored by a chair linked to the Technical University of Catalonia and the leading electric company ENDESA showing that people involved in the management of public and private entities can reach agreement about the importance of the previously mentioned topics.
CitationFabregat Fillet, Jaume; Ros Ferre, Rosa Maria. Widening the perception of engineering within society. A: . "Active learning for engineering education (ALE)". 2009.