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March 19 Twitter Chat: Sustainability in Engineering Education

bb_twitterchatGuest post written by Dr. Leidy Klotz, Associate Professor of Civil Engineering, Clemson University

You could be using Wednesday night to figure out your March-madness bracket, and so could I. But I think this twitter chat will be more fun and that together we can accomplish something useful. My name is Leidy Klotz, and I’m an engineering faculty member at Clemson University, where I do research on decision making and education for sustainability and teach about Sustainable Construction, Sustainable Restoration, Sustainable Energy Innovation. You get the idea. Before becoming an academic, I worked managing some pretty unsustainable construction projects in New Jersey and before that I played professional soccer, though not well enough to be able to afford luxuries like cheese. I live with my beautiful wife, Monica, in South Carolina, where we don’t like to use air conditioning and most of our climate-changing emissions come from traveling to visit family or the beach.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’d like to discuss sustainability in engineering during this twitter chat, but maybe not in the way you expect. Here’s some background. I think engineers should, and often do, help people. That’s the whole point, right? Yet, Big Beacon is suggesting quite radical change in calls for a whole

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new engineer who is “socially aware” and for a whole new engineering education that “fosters concern for human values and ethics.” Imagine a middle-schooler reading these points in the Manifesto. It’s embarrassing that such self-evident truths represent a departure from our broken status-quo.

Often miscast as being primarily about reusable shopping bags, sustainability is, like engineering, about people. Protecting and restoring the environment matters because it’s where us humans live. So, engineering for sustainability requires a whole new engineer who is socially aware and a whole new engineering education that fosters concern for human value and ethics.

Enough theory, I said we’d try to accomplish something useful. I hope my questions can help us all build our networks of socially aware engineers. Let’s learn from what they are doing that is different from the status quo. Let’s figure out how to build on these bright spots!

Who are your favorite socially aware engineers (tweet at them)?

  • What is so great about them?
  • Why do you think they were able to break the mold of typical engineers?

What are your favorite examples of engineering education that fosters concern for human values (tweet at these programs)?

  • What are they doing that is different?

Do you have any examples of engineering education that connects sustainability to social awareness and concern for human values?

  • How can we scale-up programs like these?

Join us on March 19 at 8 PM Eastern using #BigBeacon for a twitter chat on topics in engineering education. We will talk about how incorporating sustainability in engineering education can transform engineering education and disrupt the status quo.

Read the summary on Storify here.

Inspiration from the Big Beacon Manifesto

Big Beacon Manifesto #11: The whole new engineer is emotionally and socially aware and competent.

Big Beacon Manifesto #19: A whole new engineering education fosters concern for human values and ethics.

Read the manifesto here.

More about Leidy Klotz


Twitter: @leidyklotz

Research related to this topic:

How to Twitter Chat

If you’ve never Twitter chatted before, don’t worry; it’s very easy. First, get a Twitter account if you don’t already have one, and log in. At 8 PM ET on Wednesday go to and type #BigBeacon into the search box on Twitter. Thereafter all the tweets with the hashtag #BigBeacon will show up on your Twitter page. To participate, simply express your opinion by sending a tweet, and be sure to append the hashtag #BigBeacon so other members of the Twitter Chat see you are posting. Alternatively, automate the hashtag search and append feature by using the free service Tchat at

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