WEEF-GEDC 2018 Outcomes

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The idea of Peace Engineering was articulated first in 2003 in a conference in Pennsylvania, organized by Professors Aarne Vesilind of Bucknell University, USA and Professor Richard Bowen of Swansea University in Wales, UK. The focus was conflict resolution. This first ever global Peace Engineering conference held in Albuquerque, NM during the week of November 12-16, 2018 was a lively thoughtful discussion on what constitutes Peace Engineering – which includes the practice of educating students to include the Peace Engineering ethic in their work. There were close to 500 participants from over 44 countries, including engineering deans, faculty members, teachers, students, industry, government, multi-lateral organizations and non-profit representatives.

While organizing the conference, we realized that there were a multitude of aspects to the complex system that we call Peace Engineering that not only covers conflict resolution, but also sustainability, including the United Nations proposed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Thus, we tried to simplify the dissemination of the information through different platforms by including workshops, plenary panels, and papers. The workshops included a collaboration of multiple Universities who practice Peace Engineering, accreditation best practices, as well as highly technical workshops (machine learning, etc.). Plenary panels focused on various aspects of Peace Engineering such as international collaborations, service learning in home countries and abroad, technology helping gain access to education and resources, and working in communities in areas of conflict. An intergenerational plenary panel consisting of student representatives from Colombia and the US spoke about aspects of inclusion of diverse populations in the doing of engineering and the value. A student leader from Colombia described the organization Uma Kiwe, a research center for Peace that she co-founded there.

Each speaker brought a distinct perspective. Bernard Amadei, the founder of Engineers without Borders, summed it up: “It is like people threw down pieces of a large jigsaw puzzle, and we can already begin to see some patterns…” and Ramiro Jordan said “One planet, one environment, one chance…” These are the foundations of what Peace Engineering is being built on.

The papers were organized topically to try and simplify the transfer of information. Papers covered areas such as “moving away from conflict”, “environmental sustainability”, “vocational sustainability”, “technologies for the community”, “technologies for peace” and “inclusion and access in engineering”. These papers will be published and indexed in 2019.

Results and summary of the conference will be presented by Dr. Ramiro Jordan in a paper at the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, June 16-19, in Tampa, Florida. Also, a website to disseminate information has been created (www.peace-engineering.org). Content including courses, research, employability, entrepreneurial activities (social and business), arts, digital libraries, and deep web searches are all part of this new website. Visit the website regularly to find the latest.

Several workshops attracted and energized participants, in particular the Peace Engineering workshop developed and delivered by Stanford, Drexel and Purdue. A core group of people passionate about forwarding the Peace Engineering initiative are actively engaging on a regular basis and publishing continuous updates on the web site mentioned above.

Students learned about Stanford’s Design Thinking for working in groups; exploring 3/5 stages: Empathize, Define, Ideate. It consisted of: learning about teammates by asking open-ended, meaningful questions (Empathize), synthesizing the needs of teammates to crate context for a problem (Define), writing and rewriting ideas and sharing with the team (Ideate).Then students utilized what they learned in the context of student voice in order to understand how students are represented all over the world and to see how students can shift the direction of engineering education for future generations.

UNM student organizations also presented workshops on Machine Learning, Greenhouses for arid environments, and sparking engineering interest in youth. These student organizations include: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Engineers Without Borders (EWB), and Society of Women Engineers (SWE). The international student organization that collaborated with UNM students is Student Platform for Engineering Education Development (SPEED).

From the feedback we received, participants went home energized and engaged, the theme disrupted our traditional mindset and challenged us to do a better job in engineering education, research, arts, and entrepreneurial activities (social, business). We have a long way to go, but we think this conference with people from all over the world gave it a forward momentum that will grow.