Guest Speaker


Advancing Engineering Design Methods for Social and Environmental Outcomes


Ms. Grace Burleson


Ann Habor, MI


Monday, February 13, 2023 at 11:00:00 AM   


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Julie Linsey


Are you interested in designing engineering solutions that lead to improved social and environmental outcomes? In this talk, Grace Burleson will explore ways in which engineering designers can expand their design approaches and methods to consider broader socio-technical considerations that could ultimately lead to improved social and environmental outcomes. Burleson will share her work developing new methods to test a products’ contextual-suitability and present an example case study from her ethnographic field study in Uganda. She will also share her most recent work advancing the fields theoretical conceptualization of context in design. Through a qualitative study of novice and experienced designers from various engineering fields, this analysis identified over 600 contextual factors that were incorporated into engineering design processes, which she classified into 32 categories to further develop a taxonomy of context.Lastly, she will present a model that synthesizes methods and techniques used by experienced designers to gather, prioritize, and integrate contextual information into their engineering solutions.


Grace Burleson is a PhD-candidate in Design Science at the University of Michigan where she advances socially-engaged design methodologies to better incorporate the complex social, political, and economic systems in which engineered solutions are situated. She has eight years of experience in engineering in social impact and global development applications, including five years as an ASME Engineering for Change Fellow. She has worked for NASA's Convergent Aeronautics Solutions Project, which aims to investigate problems related to the social and environmental impact of aviation solutions. In 2019, she co-founded the Mbale Center for Innovation and Design in eastern Uganda, which empowers and equips communities to design and test solutions to challenges related to clean water, energy, reforestation, and livelihood development. She earned a dual-M.S. in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Anthropology and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Oregon State University.


Refreshments will be served.