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An Education Course For Engineering Graduate Students

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.63.1 - 4.63.10

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Paper Authors

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Phillip C. Wankat

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Frank S. Oreovicz

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

Session 1655

An Education Course for Engineering Graduate Students

Phillip C. Wankat, Frank S. Oreovicz Chemical Engineering, Purdue University

I. Introduction What educational experiences do PhD students in engineering need ? In class: We want all of our graduates - both BS and advanced - to meet the spirit of ABET Criteria 2000.1 Since approximately half of the PhD students have not graduated from an ABET accredited undergraduate program, the graduate courses should supply the same educational experiences as undergraduate courses, but studying advanced topics.2 Thus graduate students need to practice the following: oral and written communication, being a member of a technical team, design and open ended-problems, and learning how-to-learn. The course content provides the needed technical breadth to the graduate education.

In research: They need to become complete researchers who can study an area, define problems, write proposals, design and conduct experiments - both real and virtual - interpret results, and communicate the results. To do this they need practice and feedback (i. e., mentoring) in all these steps. Research provides the needed technical depth.

In teaching: To begin a teaching career effectively, a new assistant professor should be able to plan a course--with confidence, choose appropriate teaching methods, present the material, develop rapport with the students, encourage the students to study the material and practice, test the students and assign final grades. Some understanding of the psychological principles of how people learn will enhance their future teaching as well as their own efforts to stay abreast of technology.3

Once schools have learned how to satisfy ABET Criteria 2000 for the B.S. curriculum, it should not be too difficult to extend this reform to the graduate courses. Graduate students are generally well mentored in research. It is in the third category, learning to teach, that the current system of graduate engineering education is lacking.

Why is learning how to teach important? For future professors the reasons are self-evident. New professors who know how to teach when they start will do a better job during the first few years, will have a good base to build on to further improve their teaching, will be better able to write the teaching part of NSF proposals, and will have more time to devote to starting their research programs since they won’t be engaged in on-the-job training in how to teach. Learning how to teach will also be valuable for those who go into industry or government. Teaching involves communication and understanding others--skills that all engineers need. And many Ph.D.’s in industry report that they teach, although it is more informal than in academe.

Wankat, P. C., & Oreovicz, F. S. (1999, June), An Education Course For Engineering Graduate Students Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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