June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Continuing Professional Development
13.142.1 - 13.142.9
Action at Distance: A MS Degree Offered Through Distance Learning as a Vector to Student Enrichment and Industrial Interaction
This paper describes the development and implementation of a flourishing MS program offered through distance learning (DL). The program serves the mission of the university – polytechnic education. It provides an intense life-long-learning opportunity for some of the 300,000 degreed engineers working in California industry who can benefit from graduate education. The DL Masters Degree Program in Engineering with a Biomedical Specialization was designed and developed with verisimilitude to the on-campus program in mind. The distance students attend the same classes as students on campus. The DL program has the same learning objectives and student outcomes as those expected for the on-site students. Furthermore, the program for distance students has the same standards and curricular flexibilities as available to students on campus, the program accommodates the challenging schedules of full-time industry employees.
The paper describes the motivations for the development of the program at the university and in industry. It treats the challenges faced in implementing the program during its early stages, and fault tolerance schemes developed by participants. It discusses the evolution of the program from single to multi-site. It describes the growth of the program from a specialization offered under an Engineering MS degree to a stand-alone MS Degree offered by the Biomedical Engineering Department over the eight year history of the program. The paper catalogs the benefits of the program to on-campus students as well as to off-campus participants. The paper discusses the evolution of the program from a synchronous mode to a hybrid mix of synchronous and asynchronous delivery modes to accommodate student needs. It also discusses the development of a resource model which allows the program to be implemented within a typical academic administrative structure.
This paper thus describes an innovative DL program which serves the aspirations of students, pedagogical goals of the department, and aspirations of faculty in BMED. The MS program in BMED is the largest MS granting program at the University, and about 10% of the degrees granted by BMED annually are DL degrees.
The Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering at Cal Poly is the only MS in Biomedical Engineering in the California State University System (CSU) and is a logical evolution of the existing MS in Engineering with a Specialization in Biomedical Engineering (MSE-BME). Within the CSU, there are some Master’s Level specializations, such as the Biomedical Engineering Master’s in Mechanical Engineering at San Diego State University. The current MSE-BME program is by far the most popular option for both formal Master’s and blended (4+1) degrees within the college of engineering. There is currently a vibrant distance learning program at St. Jude Medical at two sites, Sylmar and Santa Clara. Additionally, there are other
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