Dr. Scott Flemming, PEng, PhD

Engineering Culture and how it relates to Defining Design Problems

Department of Industrial Engineering

Dalhousie University


Date: Wednesday 9 March 2022
Time: 13:00 pm to 14:00 pm
Venue: Online Event 

Arguably, any group of people have a culture.  This presentation explores the idea and characteristics of engineering culture and how it relates to problem defining and solving. Anthropologists have found that a meaningful way of describing culture is through “dominant images.”  In engineering, a key dominant image seems to be the engineer as Problem Solver.  This image seems to encourage undergraduate students (and perhaps all engineers) to put many of their human characteristics to the side as they approach their work. However, there may be some unsavoury side-effects to putting our humanness aside.  Anthropologists suggest that if engineers were to see themselves also as Problem Definers they could bring more of their humane side into their work and help mitigate some of these issues.  Practical ramifications for teaching engineering are discussed, namely, the importance of teaching students to expand the strict problem-solving process of GivenàfindàEquationsàDiagramàSolution to include exploring the “givens” and speaking to key stakeholders – especially those different from themselves – to understand better project goals and constraints from their points of view.

Speaker Biography
Scott Flemming has had a varied educational background at UPEI, Dalhousie, and U of T holding degrees in Mathematics, Industrial Engineering, Human Factors Engineering, and Theology.  Scott has successfully defended his PhD thesis in Industrial Engineering in the areas of the Engineering Design Process and Engineering Education.  His research and teaching interests are in Engineering Design, specifically the Problem Definition stage.

Contact Person:
Prof. Floris Goerlandt
email: floris.goerlandt@dal.ca

General Enquiry:
Ms. Tara Parker
email: ieng@dal.ca