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Feature Article


Engineering professors, like those of the natural sciences, usually teach by breaking the subject matter into parts, that is, courses and activities that are logically abstract from each other. While together comprising a coherent whole, those individual parts too easily foster abstractionism, the view that such subjects as calculus, fluid mechanics, engineering design, and engineering ethics “really are” separable from one another. Such a view militates against a Christian perspective of engineering, technology, and reality in general by replacing the organic wholeness of life before the face of God with the compartmentalization that is characteristic of modern science and naturalism.

This paper makes the claim that engineering education— and certainly Christian engineering education— ought to be characterized by wholeness, a quality of integrality whereby the individual courses and activities are organically connected to each other and to the central mission of the educational institution. That claim is first grounded in a number of basic philosophical and theological principles and then fleshed out by the description of two examples. The first example describes a design project included in a sophomore/junior level course in fluid mechanics in which groups of three to five students design a water supply system for a village within a developing country. The second example describes a design problem—the seasonal storage of thermal energy—that may be used in a number of different ways in a senior level course in heat transfer.

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