June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Electrical and Computer
15.197.1 - 15.197.10
ASSESSING A PROJECT-BASED PROGRAM AFTER A DECADE
Introduction The Department of Engineering at Western Kentucky University (WKU) was given the rare opportunity to develop entirely new engineering programs. On July 17, 2000, the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) approved the Strategy for Statewide Engineering Education in Kentucky. This strategy is intended to address two primary issues: 1.) the need to increase the number of baccalaureate engineers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and 2.) the need to address regional issues of access and productivity in engineering education.1 In response CPE’s strategy engineering programs in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering were jointly developed between our Department of Engineering and the two Research 1 Universities in the State. A project based curriculum was developed. The Department of Engineering offers degrees in civil, electrical and mechanical engineering. This paper focus on the electrical engineering program. The University of Louisville (UofL) is our partner in the EE program. In 2004, our first cohort of engineering students graduated and we were accredited. In 2010, we will have our second ABET accreditation visit. It seems like a natural time for the Electrical Engineering Program to assess a growing and dynamic program. In this paper we examine how the Electrical Engineering program has grown over the past 10 years. A study of FE results for the entire history of the program is given. FE results from an undergraduate only project-based curriculum are compared to national results. Discussions include the positive and negative aspects of our relationship with our partner.
Development of Project-Based Curriculum in Electrical Engineering The Department of Engineering’s faculty are focused on undergraduate education. The Department of Engineering’s mission revolves around Project Based Learning. 2-4 Faculty engage students in activities to support development of a clear understanding of engineering practice. An excerpt from the departmental mission statement exemplifies the focus:
“The mission of the Department of Engineering is to produce, as its graduates, competent engineering practitioners. An engineering practitioner is one who has a foundation of basic science, mathematics, and engineering knowledge, combined with practical knowledge and experience in applying existing technology to contemporary problems.” 5
Project based learning was the guiding principle in the development of the EE curriculum.7 The curriculum insures that students are involved in project based activities during their entire undergraduate experience. These experiences include lab classes, design classes and class projects. In addition, students are encouraged to be involved in industry sponsored projects outside of the classroom. Many of the EE students also participate in the annual IEEE regional robotics competition (Figure 1). Engaging students with the concrete, hands-on, and real-world problems is a great motivator and learning opportunity.
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