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A New Required Senior Course: The Engineering Profession

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Innovations for the Senior Year of the ME Curriculum

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.82.1 - 12.82.13



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Paper Authors


Steven Trimble Arizona State University

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Steven W. Trimble, Ph.D., has over 35 years of aerospace, utility, commercial, and industrial experience as an engineer, technical manager, program manager, corporate executive, and consultant. He received the Society of Automotive Enginees Outstanding Presentation Award and the Honeywell Business Growth Award. In the past he has taught engineering and business administration courses at several universities. He is currently an associate faculty member of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Arizona State University.

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Ronald Bengelink Arizona State University

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Ronald L. Bengelink, Ph.D., joined the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Arizona State University after 39 years with Boeing in Seattle. His last assignment there was as Chief Engineer of Global Engineering. He was previously responsible for the implementation of the Boeing Engineering Center in Russia as Director of Engineering for International Programs. He serves on the International Activities Committee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and the Executive Council for the International Council of Aeronautical Sciences (ICAS). He was elected a Fellow of the AIAA in 1988, and is also a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society of the United Kingdom. He is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) and the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE).

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Valana Wells Arizona State University

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Valana L. Wells, Ph.D., is currently Associate Chair in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Arizona State University. Since arriving at ASU in 1987, Dr. Wells’ research has focused on the areas of rotorcraft aeroacoustic prediction, hybrid rotorcraft design, numerical aeroacoustics, noise suppression and the study of stringed musical instruments. As Associate Chair, she has developed new undergraduate curricula for both mechanical and aerospace engineering programs, which were initiated in the Fall of 2006. In addition, she develops and oversees accreditation processes and assessment procedures. Dr. Wells teaches courses in Aerodynamics, Aircraft Design, Rotorcraft Performance, Flight Mechanics, Vibrations, and Acoustics.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A New Required Senior Course: The Engineering Profession

S. Trimble, R. Bengelink, and V. Wells

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering Arizona State University Tempe, Arizona 85287-6106


This paper describes the development and implementation of a new required course called “The Engineering Profession” for senior mechanical and aerospace engineering students at Arizona State University. Based on the needs of industry and the ABET guidelines, this course provides a bridge between engineering coursework and industrial application. The course prepares students to be global leaders by emphasizing the skills of communications, teamwork, integrated product development, systems engineering, project management, business acumen, professional ethics and life-long learning.


Industry demands graduating engineering students who have abilities in addition to traditional analytical and design skills. The current focus on meeting customer needs through the use of values-driven, multifunctional project teams has recruiters looking for graduates that possess “soft skills” such as communications, teamwork, project management, and professional ethics. Moreover, the rapid pace of technological innovation and changing markets requires graduating engineers to be skilled in the art of life long learning. As society becomes evermore driven by technology, there will be a growing need for articulate, team-oriented, socially-aware, and values-driven engineers to move into positions of global leadership. ABET 2000 challenges engineering schools to produce graduates with these skills. The Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE) at Arizona State University (ASU) has integrated these skills into the various courses within the engineering curriculum. However, recent assessments of the Capstone Design Course indicate that seniors need even more opportunities to gain these skills. In addition, the Dean of the Engineering School directed departments to have a course primarily focused on engineering business practices such as ethics, finance, and entrepreneurship. As a result, MAE has created a new senior-level course called “The Engineering Profession”.

This paper (1) discusses course development, (2) summarizes the course content, (3) describes initial implementation results, and (4) makes recommendations for course improvement.

Initial Course Planning

Previous and current department vice-chairs began planning discussions for the new course in 2002 by addressing the ABET (1997) criteria for “soft skills” as given in Table 1. In addition, these planners wanted the content to contain sufficient communications outcomes to qualify as a

Trimble, S., & Bengelink, R., & Wells, V. (2007, June), A New Required Senior Course: The Engineering Profession Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1958

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