Bridging the gap: Science and technology policy in the (bio)engineering classroom

Laurel Kuxhaus, Arthur J. Michalek, Stephen M. Martin, Jeremy L. Steinbacher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Engineers and scientists have a key role to play in the creation and implementation of government policy. Policymakers need access to the technical expertise that is critical to our national progress and security; however, this need is often overlooked by engineering students, faculty, and professionals. Even though a substantial fraction of scientists and engineers end up pursuing jobs in government, engineering curricula do not usually provide any background in policy and for many, the policy-making process remains a black box. The good news is that there are some simple ways to make it more accessible and to encourage increased involvement. In this paper, we provide a brief overview of the federal policy-making process and present a collection of classroom learning activities that link policy-making and implementation to science and engineering. These can easily be added to existing courses without wholesale curricular changes. We also suggest professional development activities for engineers at all stages of their careers and discuss ways for engineers to become involved in the policy process. Introducing learning and career development activities focused on science and engineering policy will better prepare engineers to provide needed technical expertise to policymakers. It may also encourage engineers to consider careers in local, state, and federal government.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number114703
JournalJournal of Biomechanical Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Career development
  • Classroom activities
  • Government engagement
  • Public policy
  • Science policy
  • Teaching

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Physiology (medical)


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