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Engineering & Society Program

Accelerating the understanding on how to be a sustainable engineer, by offering a unique program which gives students the freedom to pave their own path with complementary electives by being the only engineering program of its kind in Canada.

About the Program

Engineering & Society is a 5-year degree and caters towards students eager to learn how their engineering practices will affect the society around them and to be proactive in a sustainable manor.  Case studies involving real world problems will be contrasted against the three pillars of sustainability (Economic, Environmental and Societal) in inquiry-based courses as well as interactive courses within the local community.

The core courses in Engineering & Society are built to teach students how the history of technology has affected cultures, and to study current events that are pushing cultural norms. Engineering & Society gives students the ability to pursue an optional minor in a subject of their choice to compliment their degree. Students coming out of this program should expect to gain a multidisciplinary outlook and strengthened communication and interpersonal skills.

Admissions

To be accepted to the Engineering & Society 5-year program students must successfully complete Level I Engineering.

For more information on the Engineering & Society program contact Cameron Churchill, the Director of Engineering & Society, by phone at 905-525-9140, extension 23179, by email at church@mcmaster.ca or in person in JHE-A214/B. Alternatively, you may contact Anna Sciascetti , the Administrator of Engineering & Society, by phone at 905-525-9140, extension 27679, by email at sciasce@mcmaster.ca or in person at JHE-A214/C.

NOTE: In cases where demand for any program exceeds its capacity, allocation to the program will be done on a competitive basis.

Curriculum

The Engineering & Society program gives students a unique experience in core courses relating to the relationship between technology and society, sustainability and ethically responsible engineering. In addition to the core courses taken in Society, each student must take focus electives in courses that interest them throughout the 5-year program.  

Students in the Society program must take a minimum of 18 units of Focus Electives which can be chosen from any course offered at McMaster outside of the Faculty of Engineering (as long as prerequisites are met). First year complementary electives do not count towards the 18 units for the Society program.

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

3 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03

6 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

3 - 9 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

6 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

3 - 6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03

6 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

6 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

3 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

3 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

3 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03, 3Z03

6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

3 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

3 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

3 - 6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

6 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

3 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03, 4Y03/4ID3

9 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

6 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

3 - 6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03

3 - 6 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 2Y03, 3x03

6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3Y03, 3Z03

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

6 - 9 Elective Units

Year 2

ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03

3 Elective Units

Year 3

ENGSOCTY 3Y03

3 - 6 Elective Units

Year 4

ENGSOCTY 3X03, 3Z03

6 Elective Units

Year 5

ENGSOCTY 4X03, 4Y03/4ID3

6 - 9 Elective Units

Core Courses

2X03 – Inquiry in an Engineering Context I

Instructor: Navita Dyal

This is the first course in Society, where students will be introduced to the concept of inquiry. Through lectures, workshops, class trips and discussions, students will develop their ability to research, develop and write an inquiry.

  • Develop inquiry and critical thinking skills.
  • Oral and written communication skills are developed through a variety of written assignments, presentations and discussions.
  • Explore and develop interpersonal skills.

2Y03 – Case Studies in History and Technology

Instructor: Cameron Churchill

Students through means of lectures, discussions, presentations and projects will explore the social and environmental impacts that shaped the evolution of technology. The historical relationship of culture and technology is explored to understand the context of our world today.

  • An understanding of what technology is at its core.
  • Understand the cultural aspects of the evolution of technology.
  • Develop teamwork and problem solving through in class activities and a final presentation.

3Y03 – Technology and Society

Instructor: Paul Okrutny

This course investigates the underlying relationship between society and technology and the impact engineers have in the development of the interdependent connection between the two, now in the present as well as in the future as the connection becomes more complex. This course includes case studies of current and future technology in society, class discussions and a final group inquiry proposal seminar.

  • Understand the nature of the society-technology relationship.
  • Analyze the social and environmental aspects of the relationship.
  • Understand and appreciate the impact engineering will have in the future of technology and the role engineers will need to have to society.
  • Learn to develop a well structured central question.

3X03 – Inquiry in an Engineering Context II

Instructor: Greg Zilberbrant

This course builds on skills of inquiry built in previous courses and focuses on the issue of innovation and creativity of technology and the role that engineering has in technology’s development. Through an inquiry presentation in groups, the background, adoption and consequences of technology are explored. Conscious identification of bias is explored through reflection.

  • Understand and recognize the role that personal bias has when discussing and researching a topic.
  • Analyze the implication and effects of a technology in the past, present and future.
  • Develop research strategy skills.
  • Develop the ability to think critically of ideas presented in class discussion.

3Z03 – Preventative Engineering: Environmental Perspectives

Instructor: Greg Zilberbrant

The focus of the course is on sustainability, the natural environment and concepts of preventive engineering. These topics are studied and applied through specific case studies in a series of 10 class field trips. These class trips explore various aspects of industry and urban development.

4X03 – Inquiry in an Engineering Context III

The culmination of the Engineering & Society program is a final individual year long inquiry report that must be presented orally and submitted as a final paper. The topics are of the student’s choice but must relate to connection between technology and society and the implications for a practising engineer. Students are supervised by one faculty member throughout the year.

4Y03 – Society Capstone Design

Instructor: Cameron Churchill

In multi-disciplinary groups, students will complete a capstone design project that incorporates holistic design, social sustainability and ethical engineering.

  • Define all aspects of the term sustainability
  • Develop alternate solutions through effective brainstorming
  • Evaluate alternatives using qualitative methodologies
  • Synthesize an engineering solution that incorporates social, environmental and economic sustainability

4ID3 – Addressing Social Problems Through Business, Engineering and the Social Sciences

Instructor: Greg Zilberbrant

Working in groups made up of students in Engineering & Management, Commerce and Social Sciences, this final year course works to solve a real world experiential project that incorporates aspects of all faculties involved. Students taking the course will need to consider corporate social responsibility and the triple bottom line in their design.

  • Learn to work within a team of multi-disciplinary students to create a solution that satisfies the three pillars of sustainability.
  • Gain an understanding and experience working with real world clients.
  • Evaluate technological, financial and policy based approaches in addressing a client’s needs.
  • Experience determining a client’s needs to properly create a scope of work for a major project as well as responding to the client’s needs and progressive feedback to satisfy a projects scope of work.

Minors

Although it is not required, many students choose to use their focus electives towards a specific minor that aligns with their specific interests. Minors will usually entail students needing to take more than the minimum number of units for Society. Some courses within the student’s department or Society may count towards minors as well.

Please refer to the Academic Course Calendar found here for specific information regarding focus electives and minors.

Minors Available

Addressing sustainability in our society poses interdisciplinary challenges that require interdisciplinary solutions. Sustainability is frequently taught in silos within individual Faculties, and most often within individual and isolated courses. The goal of the Minor is to alter this pedagogy and teach sustainability both within and across Faculties. The Minor will provide a path for students to study diverse aspects of sustainability from different disciplines and integrate them into a cohesive whole. The primary responsibility for governance of the Minor will be held by the Interdisciplinary Minor in Sustainability Committee comprised of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and administrators from the Faculties of Business, Engineering, Health Sciences, Humanities, Science, Social Sciences, and the Arts & Science Program. The Arts & Science Program will host the Minor by managing administrative obligations such as the submission of curricular revisions. Responsibility for advising students rests with the student’s home Faculty.

Read more about the Interdisciplinary Sustainability Minor  or contact asp@mcmaster.ca.

Students who are interested in business, but also want to take the Society program, have the ability to use there focus electives towards a minor in business.

Read more about the Business Minor.

The minor in innovation is a partnership between the Faculty of Engineering and the DeGroote School of Business and is intended for students from all Faculties who wish to learn more about innovation and develop a level of innovation literacy, as well as those who are themselves innovators and wish to develop skills to create their own enterprise. To meet these varied needs, the minor includes a wide range of courses in innovation which may be taken as standalone courses or as part of the minor.

Read more about the Innovation Minor.

Some other popular minors include:

- Minor in Astronomy
- Minor in Economics
- Minor in Geography
- Minor in Philosophy
- Minor in Statistics 

See all the minors offered at McMaster

 

What Inquiry is

Inquiry is a search for understanding through a process of asking questions and seeking answers through research. Inquiry is a question-driven search for an answer.

Kinds (or objects) of understanding:

  • Understanding a phenomenon (identifying causes, factors and effects)
  • Understanding a presumed relationship or claim (testing the validity of a claim)
  • Understanding a controversy (identifying the main issues)
  • Understanding a theory or concept (clarifying and testing)
  • Understanding a process (finding out how something works)

 

What Inquiry is Not

From our experience, many student papers are one or more of the following:

  • Presenting descriptive information on a topic
  • Supporting a thesis by developing only one side of an issue
  • Offering a solution to a problem as a design project

The aim of inquiry is different. It is an attempt to reach an understanding by asking critical questions, seeking answers to those questions through research, and by weighing findings on all sides of an issue.

Resources

Field Trip Policy

RMM-801 is the Risk Management Manual and Policy for Field Trips, Research Activities, and Student Placements. For Faculty Members and/or Departments planning Field Trips, please ensure you read this manual carefully and follow the procedures as outlined.

Field Trip Approval Form

All Field Trips/Research Activities/Student Placements must have an approval form submitted as outlined in the Field Trip Policy Manual, RMM-801. Please ensure all necessary approvals are obtained (based on the level of risk) prior to the date of the trip.

**Any and all field trips with a significant or extreme risk level must have the approval of EOHSS and Senior Management **

Field Trip Checklist

Field Trip Checklists and Participant Waiver forms must be filled out by every participant before the trip. Be sure to customize the type of event and type of injury/risk as required.

 Please submit the Checklists and Waiver forms to the Engineering and Society Office (JHE-A214/C) for record-keeping purposes.

Meet our Students

Faculty and Staff

Instructors

Paul Okrutny

Paul Okrutny

Sessional Lecturer, Engineering & Society
Email: okrutnp@mcmaster.ca 

Greg Zilberbrant

Greg Zilberbrant

Sessional Lecturer, Engineering & Society
Email: okrutnp@mcmaster.ca 

Navita Dyal

Navita Dyal

Sessional Lecturer, Engineering & Society
Email: dyaln@mcmaster.ca