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Applying Case Studies In Engineering Technology Courses

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.106.1 - 3.106.12



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Paper Authors

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Neal F. Jackson

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James L. Barrott

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


APPLYING CASE STUDIES IN ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY COURSES* James L. Barrott, Neal F. Jackson Chattanooga State Technical Community College/Jackson State Community College

ABSTRACT In 1996, five Tennessee technical community colleges received funding for a National Science Foundation Advanced Technology Education (NSF/ATE) project. The purpose of the project was to develop a group of faculty who will provide leadership in telecommunications curriculum development. Two of the goals of the project were to 1) develop a framework for a telecommunications curriculum and 2) develop thirty case studies that focus on real world problems in the telecommunications industry. A team of cross-disciplinary faculty developed a case study format appropriate for technical courses. Information about actual industrial problems was gathered by visiting companies and discussing with key personnel the issues facing technicians in telecommunications. Then five sample case studies were developed.

INTRODUCTION Using structured case studies to introduce real world applications is popular and successful in business related programs. Presently, professors in engineering technology programs make little use of structured case studies. Is there a way to successfully implement case studies into an engineering technology curriculum? If so, what format should be used and what are the essential elements of the solid case study?

A case study is a method of involving students in real life scenarios. Because engineering technology courses are application oriented, case studies are a natural fit. Many engineering technology textbooks have word problems at the end of each chapter. Typically, an instructor will present principles in the classroom, demonstrate how to apply these principles to sample problems, then assign students similar problems for homework. The next class period, problems are reviewed and students ask questions to be sure that problems are correctly worked. This process of problem solving has its place. But, word problems segment knowledge and are not typically based upon a real world application. Case studies differ from word problems in that cases are based upon real industrial problems and the approach is holistic. Does this mean that case studies should replace word problems? No, case studies should be utilized to augment the current instructional process to bring real life scenarios to the classroom.

* This project was supported in part by the National Science Foundation (DUE- 9602401). Opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of the Foundation.

Jackson, N. F., & Barrott, J. L. (1998, June), Applying Case Studies In Engineering Technology Courses Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--6923

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