Asee peer logo

Adapting Graduate Aerospace Degree Programs To The Distance Learning Environment

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.134.1 - 6.134.10

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Jin Tso

author page

Daniel Biezad

Download Paper |

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

Session 2602

Adapting Graduate Degree Programs to the Distance Learning Environment

Daniel Biezad, Jin Tso Aerospace Engineering Department California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo


A new graduate aerospace engineering program has been implemented for the distance-learning environment at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. The program is fully accredited and strives to maintain the hands-on “learning by doing” educational philosophy at Cal Poly. It has been in operation for two years and will award its first graduate degree in 2001 to students working at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. The program is unusual in that it developed from within the aerospace engineering faculty with full faculty support. Several important lessons and pitfalls in the program development and in obtaining accreditation are described in the paper. Foremost among these are issues of faculty ownership of educational materials, faculty training requirements for the distance learning environment at the graduate level, course scheduling so that the students can graduate in two years, integrating the web into lecture and laboratory courses, and funding negotiations with the administration. The paper concludes with a few strong recommendations for other institutions implementing graduate-level distance- learning programs.

I. Introduction

“Every country understands that engineering must be made more exciting as a profession.” Ernest T. Smerdon1

The above wake-up call by a past president of the ASEE emphasizes that engineering education is not only rapidly changing the world, but is itself being dramatically transformed by those changes. Continuing education is now big business, fueled by information technology and recognized as essential by professional and politician alike.2 The e-learning market is expected to top 5 billion annually by 2002, despite the current tribulations of “” start-ups and despite the varied complaints from entrenched faculty (“It’s like teaching through a straw.” 3). The bottom line is that, thanks to the internet, professionals can now keep pace and advance with technology and management despite heavy work commitments.

The difficulty, of course, is that the internet can be used by frauds and diploma mills as well as by legitimate institutions. The federal government has traditionally followed a 12-hour and 50- percent rule; that is, to get financial aid students must take at least 12 hours of instruction per

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright© 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Tso, J., & Biezad, D. (2001, June), Adapting Graduate Aerospace Degree Programs To The Distance Learning Environment Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015