With ever diversifying engineering student cohorts, faculty, and ultimately,
engineering workforce, there is an increasing need to foster genuine cultural intelligence
and awareness in students. An in-depth audit of graduate attribute-oriented learning
experiences in engineering curricula at the University of Wollongong, identified a very
limited number of learning experiences targeting cultural intelligence. This paper
describes a project aimed at developing learning activities to improve the cultural
awareness of first year engineering students. Crucially for the project, activities had to
be developed with ‘nuts and bolts’, or ‘formulae’ focused engineering students in mind.
Concepts of Critical Consciousness and self reflection have been cunningly disguised in
activities that are directly relevant to engineering, and more specifically the area of
engineering design and innovation. Stimulus material, discussion and design activities
are packaged for a series of one hour tutorials to be run in conjunction with more
traditional design and drawing tutorials. Evaluation of the effectiveness of this approach
using a quantitative survey and qualitative focus groups is due to be completed in the
second semester of 2010.