Life-centered design - A paradigm for engineering in the 21 st century

Andrew S. Lau

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The engineering field, particularly engineering education, is in need of a new paradigm. We need a vision of engineering that encompasses traditional technical competence with the enlarged scope of social responsibility and ecological awareness. There have been significant developments in this direction, including the concept of sustainability, the latest engineering accreditation outcomes, ethics canons in some engineering disciplines, the field of industrial ecology, and the concept of biomimicry. Yet it is unlikely that incremental curricular changes can provide for engineers that are broadly educated, socially responsible, and ecologically grounded. This paper presents a vision for a new paradigm for engineering, starting with sustainability but going beyond it to emphasize improving the world. This vision is captured with this foundational ethic: Engineers shall hold paramount the improvement of both human life and the larger community of life, for present and future generations. This paper develops this life-centered engineering vision by reviewing recent developments and their potential to transform engineering education and engineering practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9099-9108
Number of pages10
JournalASEE Annual Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2004
EventASEE 2004 Annual Conference and Exposition, "Engineering Researchs New Heights" - Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Duration: Jun 20 2004Jun 23 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering


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