Authors: Cheah Sin Moh & Claire Ng Huiting
The Diploma in Chemical Engineering (DCHE) course of Singapore Polytechnic (SP) adopted the CDIO framework as the basis for its curriculum since 2007. Over the last several years, under the guidance of the DCHE Course Management Team (CMT) specific CDIO skills have been introduced in various core modules in the 3-year diploma program. A range of Interpersonal Skills, such as teamwork and communication, and Personal & Professional Skills are now established curriculum components. Our current effort is to integrate sustainable development into the curriculum.
The paper firstly outlines key concepts relating to sustainable development based on extensive literature reviews, and attempts to offer an explanation on why challenges remain despite the acknowledged need to teach the subject in engineering curriculum. It then explores what sustainable development means in the context of chemical engineering education and summarises the approaches that shaped the CMT’s initial approach to integrate it into the DCHE curriculum. Secondly, it shares the integration effort, which linked chemical engineering concepts to application in sustainable development through final year projects in collaboration with local farms in Singapore. Key learning points are highlighted, most notably the use of design thinking coupled with “appropriate technology”.
Finally, the paper presents plans by the DCHE CMT to employ a more holistic approach that better engages students in sustainable development in the context of engineering practice. We believe that student engagement in meaningful community projects will facilitate a better understanding of the significance of the three overlapping circles of sustainable development (environment, social, economic) and develop a greater appreciation that they can indeed make a difference with what they learnt in the three-year diploma.
Keywords: Sustainable Development; Chemical Engineering; Curriculum Integration; Design Thinking; CDIO