San Antonio, Texas
June 10, 2012
June 10, 2012
June 13, 2012
Design in Engineering Education
25.81.1 - 25.81.19
A New Vision for Engineering Design Instruction: On the Innovative Six Course Design Sequence of James Madison UniversityThe rapid pace of technological progress and future challenges for globalization, sustainability,complexity, and adaptability of engineering professionals call for the paradigm shift inengineering design education. TheSchool of Engineering at James Madison University, which isgraduating its inaugural engineering class in May 2012, has been developed from the ground upto not be an engineering discipline-specific program, but to provide students training with anemphasis on engineering design, systems thinking, and sustainability. Our vision is to producecross-disciplinary engineer versatilists. One important place in the curriculum where this isachieved is the six course (10-credit) design sequence which is the spine of the curriculum.Starting with the sophomore design courses (Engineering Design I and II), the focus is onteaching students the process of design including the phases of planning, conceptdevelopment, system-level design, detail design, as well as testing and refinement. Groundedon a novel and multi-dimensional problem-based learning (PBL) pedagogy, students also learnand apply engineering design tools and methods to a two semester, real-world, problem-based,service learning project.This pedagogy continues in the capstone design experience(Engineering Design III through VI), where students are provided with important instructionconcurrently withtheir capstone design experience, in which theywork in groups with one ormore faculty advisors on a four semester, two-year project. In this four-semester sequence,students apply the engineering design process and design tools and methods learned during thesophomore design courses to their new projects.Our vision in teaching the engineering design process is to enable mastery learning throughdirected and non-directed, group-based and independent, simple and complex, structured andunstructured, problem-based learning experiences that incrementally expose and reiterate thedesign process. Our goal is to teach our students to be adaptive problem solvers and havecognitive flexibility when solving problems—an essential skill for these future engineers to learnif they are going work toward developing a sustainable society. The following overarchingattributes build this vision: (1) breadth and depth, (2) balance between theory and practice, (3)balance between qualitative and quantitative reasoning, (4) developmental instruction insystems thinking and sustainability, (5) integrating cross-disciplinarity perspectives, (6) processand not just content (i.e. cognitive processes), and (7) bridging engineering skills withprofessional skills such as communication, project management, team and collaborative work,ethics, etcetera. In this paper, we present how each course in the six-course sequence builds offthe prior providing moderate instruction over a long period of time and buildingdevelopmentally on prior learning outcomes, all while in the context of authentic andmeaningful PBL experiences. It is such skills and attitudes that students learn and practice overa long period of time (with regular support from and collaboration with faculty) that arecriticalin students taking ownership of and tailoring to their own abilities and design habits.
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