RCE Saskatchewan - 2023

Educating Responsible Software Engineers
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Educating Responsible Software Engineers
Submitting RCE: 
RCE Saskatchewan
Contributing organization(s) : 
University of Regina, Luther College
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Tim Maciag, Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science
Organizational Affiliation: 
University of Regina
Format of project: 
Engineering course and peer-reviewed conference paper
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Wednesday, March 29, 2023
Additional resources: 
Outcomes of student software engineering work:

Engineers Canada graduate attributes: guided by the UN SDGs & linked to the Engineering Graduate attribute 3.1.9 “Impact of Engineering on Society and the Environment (https://engineerscanada.ca/sites/default/files/Graduate-Attributes.pdf)
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Address of focal point institution for project: 
University of Regina
3737 Wascana Pkwy
Regina, SK
Canada S4S 0A2
Multiple ecosystems were the focus as based on urban-based post-secondary student explorations and their own selected target focus area as guided by a UN SDG(s). Projects spanned multiple ecosystems.
Target Audience:
The UN-SDG inspired software engineered solutions created by HE students within the course had (have) a wide range of audience, spanning youth, primary, secondary, and community learners.
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
RCE Saskatchewan is located in the mixed moist grassland region in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, with the University of Regina located in the capital city (Regina). Socio-economic features include a diverse population, Indigenous and non-Indigenous (both European settlers and recent immigrants), small cities, and a significant rural population. Primary economic activities include agriculture and ranching, oil and gas, mining (including potash), and tourism.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Inspired by SDG 4, this project explored the idea of facilitating a learning environment for post-secondary software engineering learners to engineer technology solutions for problems related to ESD around the SDGs. Guided by a framework for creating and “stewarding technology for communities,” agile software engineering practice, and collaborations from RCE Saskatchewan, students learned about ESD, the UN SDGs, and the RCE network. The second part of this project is the research and engineering outcomes of the students’ work. Students chose a UN SDG(s), dove into problems/gaps relating to ESD, and proposed and built software solutions in support of ESD.
January, 2021
What does it mean to be a responsible engineer?” Characteristics could be wide-ranging. Engineers Canada helps by defining graduate attributes (GAs), with GA 9 “impact(s) of engineering on society and the environment” one characteristic that is fundamental to the idea of a responsible engineer. Sustainable design and development has seen increasing conversation and engagement in the engineering field in recent years. With initiatives such as the UN’s “decade of action,” engineers have the innate responsibility to help deliver the promise of positively transforming our world by 2030 and beyond. Reflecting on Quan-Haase’s idea of technology as society, relating to the idea that society advancements are in large part intertwined with advancements in technology, software engineers may have a significant role to play.
This ongoing educational course-based exploration/project sought/seeks to address the following questions: Can inspiration towards becoming a responsible software engineer be instilled in engineering learners in academia? Can this be accomplished by facilitating a learning experience that immerses engineering learners in researching and exploring the design and development of computer technologies in support of the UN SDGs?
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The course described facilitated a 50/50 mix of 50% exposure to theory in community-centred design and topics in Humanitarian Engineering and 50% towards an engineering design project that aimed to explore student-created ESD solutions to the UN SDGs. The course provided (provides) education and learning opportunities for the engineering and stewardship of digital habitats (online communities of practice), building understanding of how to support societal digital literacies, and building understanding of how to deal with facilitating change and knowledge management. Guided by Wenger’s, White’s, and Smith’s framework for creating and “stewarding technology for communities,” agile software engineering practice, and collaborations from RCE Saskatchewan, students learned about ESD, the UN SDGs, and the RCE network and created digital solutions accordingly.
Size of academic audience: 
50 post-secondary software engineering learners (undergraduate and graduate level)
In the most previous course offering engineering learners were asked whether they had knowledge of or encountered the UN SDGs before taking the course and the majority, 77%, had not. When asked whether the UN SDGs would guide all future work in the engineering field the potential conflict learners had between indicating yes, they would and between being asked to fulfil customer requests emerged. However, even with this perceived possible conflict it was clear that exposure to ESD and the UN SDGs had mostly a positive impact on learner reflections for future work in the software engineering field. With many learners indicating, at the very least, that they would reflect on their experiences in this course when working in the field and when engineering future digital/software projects.
Lessons learned: 
The class provided engineering learners with a guided but personally selected exploration of the UN SDGs that interested them most. A positive here was that learners felt free to explore the topic area, proposing solutions to problems in any way that interested them. It is hypothesized that a more constrained project experience would have similar results. However, this freedom of expression enabled learners to really shine and dive deep into proposing worthwhile solutions as perceived by them. This is hypothesized to have positive impacts towards lifelong learning and reflections towards the UN SDGs in future engineering work.
Key messages: 
Introducing the UN SDGs and the RCE Network and enabling engineering learners to explore the creation of digital technologies in support of ESD may have significant impacts on their future work choices and their creative and lifelong learning opportunities.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
RCE Saskatchewan actively promotes local ESD efforts. Having the co-coordinator of RCE Saskatchewan (Dr. Roger Petry from Luther College) participate in the course, introducing the UN SDGs and the RCE Network to learners was a key and positive experience. Engineering learners were able to hear from a passionate and active community expert which all student indicated provided inspiration for their selected exploration.
Funding for this project was provided by the University of Regina Centre for Teaching and Learning.
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 2 - End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture 
SDG 3 - Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 5 - Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls 
SDG 6 - Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all 
SDG 7 - Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all 
SDG 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
SDG 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts 
SDG 14 - Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development 
SDG 15 - Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification and halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss 
SDG 17 - Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development 
Disaster Risk Reduction 
Traditional Knowledge  
Curriculum Development 
Plants & Animals 
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 1 - Advancing policy 
Priority Action Area 2 - Transforming learning and training environments 
Priority Action Area 3 - Developing capacities of educators and trainers 
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: