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A Method for Assessing Required Course-related Skills and Prerequisite Structure

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Student Learning and Teamwork

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.65.1 - 25.65.12



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Paper Authors


Michael Johnson Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Michael D. Johnson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M, he was a Senior Product Development Engineer at the 3M Corporate Research Laboratory in St. Paul, Minn. He received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and his S.M. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Johnson’s research focuses on design tools, specifically the cost modeling and analysis of product development and manufacturing systems, computer-aided design methodology, and engineering education. His work has been published in the International Journal of Production Economics, IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, and the Journal of Engineering Design.

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Jyhwen Wang Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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Jyhwen Wang joined the Department of Engineering Technology and Industrial Distribution at Texas A&M University in 2001 after working 10 years as a researcher and R&D manager in industry. He teaches mechanical design applications and his research interest is in the areas of mechanical design and material processing technology. He received his Ph. D. degree in mechanical engineering (1991) from Northwestern University.

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A Method for Assessing Required Course-Related Skills and Prerequisite StructureThe curricula in engineering and engineering technology programs should be dynamic with agoal of constant improvement and refinement. Unfortunately, this is often not the case; coursesare developed, altered, and expanded in a piecemeal manner. Rarely is there a holistic top downexamination of desired input and output skills for individual courses and a discussionsurrounding course organization. Namely, as time progresses many programs end up withcourses that developed not a developed curriculum. As part of a strategic planning exercise at acombined Manufacturing and Mechanical Engineering Technology Program, a team was taskedwith examining the curriculum to determine if its organization and coverage were appropriate.The first step in this process involves the solicitation of a set of skills that faculty desire fromincoming students; faculty are also asked to provide a set of skills they hope students will acquirein their course. The entire list of skills is then clarified with duplicates eliminated. The list is thengiven to faculty and members of the program’s industrial advisory committee (IAC) to determineif any skills are obsolete or missing from the list. This refined list serves as a basis for discussionregarding the addition or elimination of certain skills and their place in the curriculum. Finally,the courses incorporating the refined skill inputs and outputs associated with them are placed in adesign structure matrix to help determine prerequisite structure and identify any courses withcyclic dependencies.This work will present general findings from this set of exercises and discuss relevant feedbackfrom both faculty and IAC members. A comparison between the original curriculum and aproposed altered curriculum will also be presented. 

Johnson, M., & Wang, J. (2012, June), A Method for Assessing Required Course-related Skills and Prerequisite Structure Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20825

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