Engineering empathy: Faculty works to build empathy into engineering program

The class was one of the first in the UGA College of Engineering designed to introduce students to empathy as a learned skill.

Researchers in the college and in the School of Social Work are investigating how engineering students can best develop empathic skills to enhance their approach to professional practice. The work is supported by a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation.

“I felt like I was an empathetic person before the class, but I never thought about applying empathy to engineering and projects that I might be designing,” Hain said. “It made me think about things in greater depth and challenged me and the other students to understand the direct and indirect impact of our work.”

Empathy—being sensitive to another person’s perspective—is as necessary for engineers as it is for social workers, according to Shari Miller, an associate dean in the School of Social Work and co-principal investigator on the project.

by Mike Wooten Laurie Anderson