Engineering and Society – Faculty of Engineering
Fireball statue outside with students walking in the distance

Engineering & Society

  • The only degree of its kind in North America

  • Access to exclusive courses

    ENGSOCTY 2X03, 2Y03, 3X03 and 3Y03

  • Students learn from instructors external to their engineering discipline

Our courses

Examine the complex interactions between technology and society, sustainability and ethically responsible engineering.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

Focus Electives

The program includes focus electives which add depth to the conventional engineering discipline. It allows each student to experience a unique and diverse education, and learn from people external to their engineering discipline. Many students continue in this area of study and earn a formal minor. Focus electives can be anything outside of the Faculty of Engineering as long as you meet the prerequisites, and you can get into the course.


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

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

Practice creative problem-solving, gain leadership skills and develop an entrepreneurial mindset.

Taking Engineering & Society courses gives you a head start to attain a minor in sustainability.

Addressing sustainability in our society poses interdisciplinary challenges requiring interdisciplinary solutions. The minor provides a path for students to study diverse aspects of sustainability from different disciplines and integrate them into a cohesive whole.

Engineering & Society students take 6-9 units that contribute to the minor:

Meet our alumni

  • Alyson King

    Alyson King, BEng Scty ’18 (Civil Engineering)

    “I always knew that the Society program would be a great fit for me, and I can happily say that I was totally right on that front.”
    Read the spotlight
  • Eric Greiss headshot

    Eric Greiss,  BEng Society ’22 (Electrical Engineering)

    “I think everyone should take society if they are in engineering.”
    Read the spotlight

Where to find us

JHE 316
Located on the third floor of the John Hodgins Engineering Building

Office hours: 
Monday to Friday 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. 

Meet our staff

The Engineering & Society program staff are available to assist you.

In Engineering & Society, we are cultivating a sense of curiosity, and creativity, and are training our students to ask bigger, better questions in order to create universal solutions.

Director, Dr. Cameron Churchill