Welcome to the comprehensive guide to this undergraduate class at the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University! (If you’re viewing on mobile, click the three lines in the righthand top corner to see the menu of content on this site.)

Thrilled to be back in person again and able to explore St. Louis!

What is this course?

The Wash U Bubble.  We know and love it.  Some of us can walk through campus backwards and (almost) with our eyes closed.  But the St. Louis community may be a bit of a mystery, and you may also be wondering, as an engineer, how you can engage in helping solve the problems in your community?  With St. Louis as a case study, you will be partnered with a local organization and create something that adds value to the organization.  Some of the systemic problems that plague us—from healthcare inequity to the racial divide (particularly events catalyzed and brought to light in Ferguson in 2014), from predatory practices of municipal courts to systemic problems like food deserts and public transportation that contribute to deepening poverty will be explored through your partnership.

You can think of this course as a senior design style course, where your client is a community focused organization that focuses on bridging the equity gaps here in St. Louis, mixed with an immersive fall break or spring break filled with site visits and guest speakers.

We say “systemic,” but why?  As engineers, you have a unique ability to look at systems, at collections of data and scientific knowledge, and analyze them in very practical ways.  We’ll look at case studies from around the country that explore ethical dilemmas in engineering.  Many of these case studies have moments where community members and/or engineers can or could have made a difference.  We’ll also take a look at moments of leadership, teamwork, and collaboration that have enacted change.  You’ll have a chance to work on a team all semester.  And we’ll discuss quite a lot about conflict management and negotiation, both from the perspective of engineering and in the community.

Who teaches it?

Professors Seema Dahlheimer, Tucker Krone, and Sandra Matteucci all teach this course, and it’s typically co-taught. That means that you’d usually have two professors instead of just one. Bonus: we’re all Wash U alums!