To a large extent the appropriation of science and technology – how humans take responsibility for ensuring the appropriate use of new technological development – lies in the hands of engineers. Engineering has massive potential implications for societal development and sustainability. Therefore, engineers’ practice cannot be considered their own business entirely. It matters how they practice their profession, how they approach, define and solve problems.
This dissertation does not investigate actual engineering practice, nor does it assess what engineering “is”. Rather, engineering students’ conceptions of what engineering is and what societal role engineers should play are identified by means of mixed methods analyses of surveys with open and closed-ended questions deployed in two waves to an entire year group of engineering students in Denmark.
The actual professional identity construal of the engineering students and their view on the professional responsibility of engineers towards society are discussed against the theoretically based ideals of engineering professionalism from an interdisciplinary perspective, combining sociology of professions with a socio-cultural perspective to science and technology and insights from engineering education research, education for sustainable development theory and learning theory.
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