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  1. In the spring of 2021, the University of San Diego’s Department of Integrated Engineering taught the course, “Integrated Approach to Energy”, the second offering of a new required course, to nine second-year engineering students. The sociotechnical course covered modern energy concepts, with an emphasis on renewable energies and sustainability, and it exposed the students to other ways of being, knowing, and doing that deviated from the dominant masculine Western White colonial discourse. Following the course completion, we interviewed five students by using a semistructured protocol to explore how they perceived of and communicated about engineers and engineering. We sought to identify the takeaways from their course exposure to sustainability and the sociotechnical paradigm, which were central to the course. The findings suggest that the students were beginning to form sociotechnical descriptions, and that they were still developing their understanding and perceptions of engineers and engineering. Moreover, we observed that they were still wrestling with how best to integrate sustainability into those perceptions. There was an a-la-carte feel to the students’ conceptualizations of sustainability as it related to engineering, as in, “you can ‘do’ sustainability with engineering, but do not have to”. We argue that engineering students likely need these pedagogicalmore »paradigms (sociotechnical engineering and sustainability) woven through the entirety of their engineering courses if they are to fully accept and integrate them into their own constructs about engineers and engineering.« less
  2. Engineers are increasingly called on to develop sustainable solutions to complex problems. Within engineering, however, economic and environmental aspects of sustainability are often prioritized over social ones. This paper describes how efficiency and sustainability were conceptualized and interrelated by students in a newly developed second-year undergraduate engineering course, An Integrated Approach to Energy. This course took a sociotechnical approach and emphasized modern energy concepts (e.g., renewable energy), current issues (e.g., climate change), and local and personal contexts (e.g., connecting to students’ lived experiences). Analyses of student work and semi-structured interview data were used to explore how students conceptualized sustainability and efficiency. We found that in this cohort (n = 17) students often approached sustainability through a lens of efficiency, believing that if economic and environmental resources were prioritized and optimized, sustainability would be achieved. By exploring sustainability and efficiency together, we examined how dominant discourses that privilege technical over social aspects in engineering can be replicated within an energy context.