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An Architecture For Learning: Designing An Initial Curriculum For Olin College

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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

6.153.1 - 6.153.14



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John Bourne

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

Session 2793

An Architecture for Learning: Designing an Initial Curriculum for Olin College

John R. Bourne, Ph.D Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering


This paper describes the initial process of curriculum design and the study of implementation methods at the new Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA. Commencing with a broad-gauged discovery process, curriculum design at Olin College sought, from the outset, to incorporate the best ideas in engineering education pedagogy. We hope that our systematic investigation of innovative learning methodologies and content organization has enabled us to move rapidly toward our goal of creating an ideal learning community. We re-examined and reconsidered both traditional delivery processes as well as experiments in engineering education that have taken place worldwide. We also commenced reevaluation of how content could be reorganized in the disciplinary areas offered at Olin College1.

Curriculum design was one part of the set of activities at Olin College, known as Invention 2000 (I2K), consisting of discovery, invention, implementation and test phases. In addition to curriculum design, other design activities included: (1) determining policies and procedures, (2) performance evaluation, (3) assuring innovation, and (4) establishing a culture of change and continuous improvement. The discovery process for the curriculum was essentially complete at the end of 2000, although discovery will continue throughout the life of the college. The invention cycle occurred during the winter of 2001 and the implementation and test phases will commence in 2001-2002. By the time of the ASEE conference, this work will be only partially complete. This paper provides a snapshot of the status of the curriculum development as of winter, 2001; the conference presentation will provide an update as of early summer, 2001.

The Processes

The processes employed to create the curriculum for Olin College were many and varied. They included: (1) visits to many institutions to investigate a variety of pedagogical approaches, (2) study of the literature on engineering education, including reviewing results from the engineering education coalitions, (3) seeking advice from a wide range of experts, and (4) comparing and contrasting alternatives for designing the curriculum. In

1 Degrees will be offered in Electrical and Computer Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Engineering. The latter category will contain general topics, probably including Biomedical Engineering

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

Bourne, J. (2001, June), An Architecture For Learning: Designing An Initial Curriculum For Olin College Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--8915

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