In calmer times, Rosanna Yuen-Yan Chan would encourage her engineering students at the Chinese University of Hong Kong to think critically about advancing the United Nations’ sustainable development goals (SDGs). In a paper presented at the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference, she and several colleagues described a course in which teams of students each identified a particular SDG and offered policy solutions, building a case using U.N. statistics and other sources. “We hope this work has partially answered the important question of ‘What can engineering educators do for sustainable development?’” the authors wrote. In November 2019, Chan had more immediate concerns as universities across Hong Kong became war zones in a conflict between pro-democracy militants and police. She had seen trouble coming and prepared for the prospect that schools would be forced to close, she tells writer Ron Gluckman in our cover story, “Under Seige.” In addition to video lectures and online instruction, she had students write blogs, with a set number of posts, and encouraged students to comment on and analyze what was going on. “It showed that students can do a lot outside campus,” she says. With Hong Kong slipping into recession and its universities worried about their future, we’ll have to wait and see if the recent turmoil advances or betrays the goal Chan expressed in her 2018 paper: “to facilitate the development of global citizenship in engineering students.”
Fusion power has been called a “holy grail” so often it’s become a tired cliché. But as Tom Grose reports in our feature, “Power Hitters,” breakthroughs in production technology have inspired a number of start-ups and big name investors who think they can beat the multibillion-dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, nearing completion in southern France, in generating more power from fusion than is required to produce it.
Jenn Pocock’s “From Hotline to Frontline” tells how Gilda Barabino, engineering dean at the City College of New York (who served for several years on our editorial board), is striving to get more women of color not just into faculty jobs but into positions, like hers, that can shape the future of engineering education.
Please take the time to get up to speed on the upcoming ASEE Board of Directors election. Full biographies and candidates’ statements appear in the ASEE Today section.
We hope you enjoy the January issue of Prism, as well as success in 2020.