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Dr. Orrs: Role and Future of Design in Engineering Education

March 15, 2021 @ 11:00 am - 12:30 pm

Dr Orrs will discuss the multifaceted role of design in engineering education in courses, career & life.

Zoom link:

After exploring the multi-faceted role of design thinking in engineering education, this presentation previews new developments that can be anticipated in the field, which will keep Mines at the forefront of engineering capstone design and beyond. The bulk of these reflections will be drawn from the presenter’s experiences founding and directing an interdisciplinary capstone program in sustainable development at Lehigh University, examples of which will be woven throughout the presentation. The talk will conclude with the presenter’s vision for not only the future of the capstone design program at Mines, but also the integration of design thinking more comprehensively across the curriculum and student experience, including life design. Expected impacts on students, the School, the field, and the local and global community will be explored.

In August of 2012, Mark Orrs became founding Director of the Sustainable Development Program at Lehigh University. Among the first of its kind, the program utilized experiential learning through problem-solving with real-world field partners to immerse students from Lehigh’s three undergraduate colleges – Engineering, Business, and Arts & Sciences – into the triple bottom-line discipline of sustainable development. Under his stewardship for over six years, students in the program used design thinking and the entrepreneurial mindset to solve challenges of sustainable development domestically and in more than a dozen countries abroad. Since relocating to Denver, Colorado, in September of 2018, Mark has continued to lead an online course known as the Global Classroom (, which he helped launch, develop and facilitate in various capacities since its founding in 2008 for the Global Network of Masters in Development Practice Programs. He has also become actively involved in various volunteer civic and advisory positions, including serving as Chief Sustainability Advisor to Denver City Councilwoman Kendra Black, being appointed to the Denver Sustainability Advisory Council’s Science & Research Committee, and joining the Regenerative Recovery Coalition formed out of the Alliance Center in Denver. Mark received his PhD in Sustainable Development from Columbia University under the mentorship of Prof. Jeff Sachs, evaluating for his dissertation the impacts of surgical cataract extraction on blind and visually impaired individuals in rural parts of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Malawi. He also studied Sociology, Theology and Faith-Justice Studies at Saint Joseph’s University and earned a Diploma in Economics with Distinction from the London School of Economics & Political Science.


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