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An Adventure in Extreme Curriculum Integration to Stimulate Innovation and Collaboration

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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

Course and Curriculum Development

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.148.1 - 25.148.12



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Paper Authors


Ronald G. Kander Philadelphia University

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Ronald G. Kander is Executive Dean of the College of Design, Engineering, and Commerce at Philadelphia University. His current teaching and research interests are in the areas of design processes, materials selection, engineering education, and composites. He received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1980 and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 1987. Before becoming Executive Dean at Philadelphia University in 2011, Kander was Director of the School of Engineering at James Madison University (JMU), where his teaching and research interests were in the area of polymer processing, manufacturability, and rapid prototyping/tooling technologies. Kander was also Department Head of Integrated Science & Technology (ISAT) at JMU and a faculty member in the Materials Science & Engineering Department (MSE) at Virginia Tech (VT). While at VT, he was also Director of the College of Engineering’s interdisciplinary “Green Engineering” program. Before joining academia, he was employed by the DuPont Company as a Senior Engineer in the Advanced Composites Division of the Fibers Department and in the Polymer Physics Group of the Central Research Department. Kander has taught a wide range of courses. At Philadelphia University, he will be teaching a freshman Integrated Design Processes course and a sophomore Materials Selection and Design course. At JMU, he taught a freshman seminar class to incoming ISAT and engineering majors, a sophomore Instrumentation and Measurement class, a junior Materials & Mechanics course, and a graduate Modeling and Simulation class. He also designed and taught two interdisciplinary, university-wide honors classes. One entitled “Gödel, Escher, Bach” is based on the 1979 Pulitzer Prize winning book by Douglas Hofstadter, and the other is entitled “Aesthetics of Visualizing Information,” which was co-taught by Professor Kander (an engineer) and Professor Chad Curtis (a sculptor in the Department of Art and Art History). In this course, students analyzed and interpreted a variety of images and data visualizations (artistic, scientific, and others), examined the interface between scientific and artistic representation, and explored the idea of convergence between artistic and scientific representations. At VT, he taught several sections each of a freshman Engineering Fundamentals course, a freshman Materials in Our World course, a sophomore Elements of Materials Engineering course, a sophomore Analytical Methods course, a sophomore Environmental Life Cycle Assessment course, a senior/graduate Polymer Engineering course and it’s associated Polymer Engineering lab, a graduate Polymer Deformation and Fracture course, and a graduate Engineering Mathematics course. While at VT, he received several awards for teaching excellence, including the 1993 College of Engineering Sporn Award, the 1997 Dean’s Teaching Award, and the 1998 William E. Wine Award. He was also inducted into the Virginia Tech Academy of Teaching Excellence in 1998 and named a Diggs Teaching Scholar in 1999. Kander has supervised more than 30 graduate students (Ph.D. and M.S.); published more than 50 articles, book chapters, and refereed conference papers; and presented more than 75 invited lectures and conference presentations (including two invited Gordon Conference presentations). According to the Scopus Citation Index, his work has been cited more than 200 times. Kander has secured in excess of $6 million in funded research, approximately half of which was from industrial sources. In addition to his administrative, academic teaching, and research responsibilities, he is also active in industrial consulting and in teaching industry short courses.

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An Adventure in Extreme Curriculum Integration To Stimulate Innovation and Collaboration Looking back across the history of science, technology, engineering and math(STEM) education, there have been nearly continuous calls for curriculuminnovation and improvement. In the past 20 years, however, many of these callshave intensified and focused on the incorporation of interdisciplinary, problem-based, “real-world” learning in one form or another. These range from moregeneral reports like those coming from the Boyer Commission in the mid 1990’s,to specific work that led to the restructuring of the ABET accreditation processthrough EC2000. More recently, publications by the National Academy ofEngineering such as “The Engineer of 2020” and “Educating the Engineer of2020” have reenergized the call for innovation in STEM curricula. Xxxxxxxxxxxx University is a small, private university with a long traditionof professional technical education and an emerging focus on innovation andinterdisciplinary education. The newly formed College of Design, Engineeringand Commerce is the home to a revolutionary, trans-disciplinary curriculum thatretains the core learning of the three disciplines within the college (design,engineering, and business) while forging new collaborations between the threedisciplines. As a model for professional university education in the 21st century,Xxxxxxxxxxxx University is focused on providing graduates with the skillsnecessary to be leaders in their professions at every level of their careers. Bybringing these three disciplines together, the new College will push students tothink beyond the boundaries of existing disciplines and focus on market-driveninnovation through teamwork, collaboration and connections with industrypartners. Students will gain expertise in their disciplines and a fluency in the trans-disciplinary ways of the 21st-century work world on a much larger scale thanwhat has been seen in higher education to date. The new College is a forward-thinking and timely concept because it combines the best aspects of the threedisciplines at its core to focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. This ishappening exactly at a time when innovation is universally recognized as a criticalelement in global economic recovery, as well as in solving today's complex,world-scale human problems. This presentation will review the most recent calls for STEM curricularchange and present the exciting new response from Xxxxxxxxxxxx University,the College of Design, Engineering and Commerce. The presentation will focuson the efforts to synergistically combine targeted curricular changes with a focuson content-specific teaching pedagogy and a new academic managementstructure. Specific trans-disciplinary core courses in Design Processes, BusinessModels, Systems Analysis and Research Methods will be described, along withthe 6-credit year-long Capstone Project experience in  which  students  are  brought  together  in  interdisciplinary  teams  from  the  three  disciplines  in  the  college  to  work  on  a  real-­‐world  problem  for  a  real  external  customer  with  the  expectation  of  delivering  real  solutions.

Kander, R. G. (2012, June), An Adventure in Extreme Curriculum Integration to Stimulate Innovation and Collaboration Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20908

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