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Associate of Science Degree Program to Facilitate Transfer of Students from Two-year to Four-year Engineering Programs

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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

Making Headway: Two-year/Four-year Curriculum Alignment and Also U-G Research

Tagged Division

Two Year College Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.234.1 - 25.234.28



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Paper Authors


James K. Nelson Jr. P.E. University of Texas, Tyler

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James K. Nelson received a bachelor's of civil engineering degree from the University of Dayton in 1974. He received the master's of science and doctorate of philosophy degrees in civil engineering from the University of Houston. During his graduate study, Nelson specialized in structural engineering. He is a registered Professional Engineer in four states, a Chartered Engineer in the United Kingdom, and a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers. He is also a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and the SAFE Association. Prior to receiving his Ph.D. in 1983, Nelson worked as a Design Engineer in industry and taught as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Houston and Texas A&M University, Galveston. In industry, he was primarily involved in design of floating and fixed structures for the offshore petroleum industry. After receiving his Ph.D., Nelson joined the civil engineering faculty at Texas A&M University. He joined the civil engineering faculty at Clemson University in 1989 as Program Director and Founder of the Clemson University Graduate Engineering programs at the Citadel and became Chair of Civil Engineering in 1998.
In July 2002, Nelson joined the faculty at Western Michigan University as Chair of Civil and Construction Engineering. At Western Michigan, he started the civil engineering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and also chaired the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Industrial Design. In summer 2005, he joined the faculty at the University of Texas, Tyler. At UT, Tyler, he was the Founding Chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and instituted the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. In 2006, he became the Dean of Engineering and Computer Science. Nelson's primary technical research interest is the behavior of structural systems. For almost 25 years, he has been actively involved in evaluating the behavior of free-fall lifeboats and the development of analytical tools to predict that behavior. His research has formed the basis for many of the regulations of the International Maritime Organization for free-fall lifeboat performance. Since 1998, Nelson has served as a Technical Advisor to the U.S. delegation to the International Maritime Organization, which is a United Nations Treaty Organization. In that capacity, he is a primary author of the international recommendation for testing free-fall lifeboats and many of the international regulations regarding the launch of free-fall lifeboats. He has authored many technical papers that have been presented in national and international forums and co-authored three textbooks. Nelson chaired a national committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers for curriculum redesign supporting the civil engineering body of knowledge. He is actively engaged in developing strategies for enhancing the STEM education pipeline in Texas and nationally and has testified before the Texas Senate Higher Education Committee in that regard. He served on a committee of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop a statewide articulation compact for mechanical engineering and currently chairs the council for developing articulation compacts in other engineering disciplines. He also served on the Texas State Board of Education committee preparing the standards for career and technical education.

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Mary Eileen Smith Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

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Mary Smith has been employed with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board since 1987 and now serves as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Academic Planning and Policy. She is responsible for the administration and management of matters related to the board’s higher education academic planning and policy functions, and she provides leadership on key projects, reports, and studies that cut across divisions of the agency. She has taught at the University of Texas, Austin,, and she currently is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of communication at St. Edward’s University in Austin. Smith serves as the Project Coordinator for the $1.8 million productivity grant awarded to Texas from Lumina Foundation for Education to plan methods of making the opportunity of going to college more affordable for students and the state. Smith has organized numerous meetings and conferences on behalf of the Coordinating Board, and she has made a number of presentations at various academic and professional conventions and conferences. Smith served for five years as a Program Director in the former Division of Universities and Health-related Institutions, where her primary responsibilities included the review of new degree program proposals and the administration of the Minority Health Research and Education Grant program. Smith spent her first 12 years of employment with the Coordinating Board in the Department of Personnel Services, where from 1996 to 1999 she served as the department’s Assistant Director. Prior to her employment with the Coordinating Board, Smith spent 13 years in the health care field. Smith holds a Ph.D. in communication studies, a certificate in dispute resolution, a master's of arts degree in speech communication, and a bachelor's of arts degree in psychology, all from The University of Texas, Austin.

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Martha M. Ellis

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Associate of Science Degree Program to Facilitate Transfer of Students from 2-Year to 4-Year Engineering ProgramsAlthough enrollments in engineering programs have increased slightly in recent years, therecontinues to be concern about preparing the number of engineers necessary to meet the workforce needs of the Unites States to maintain technological competitiveness. Community collegescontinue to represent a source of students who could potentially enroll in baccalaureateengineering programs after completing their studies at the community college if a coherentcurriculum were available that would ensure seamless migration to a bachelor’s degree andgraduation in a timely manner. Presented in this paper is the basis for a highly structuredstatewide Associate of Science in Engineering Science (ASES) degree program, and the mannerin which baccalaureate programs build upon this degree to complete the expectations for abaccalaureate engineering degree. The degree, which has been implemented in Texas, representsthe culmination of several years of effort to align coursework among multiple institutions.Further, the degree represents a significantly new approach to curricula. The paradigm ischanged from viewing curricula as a number of courses to viewing it as the development of anecessary body of knowledge. As of this writing, the ASES degree has been adopted by severalinstitutions. A significant benefit of this degree for the student is that it provides significantlymore flexibility compared to articulated programs, and provides completion time that is nearlythe same as a student directly entering a baccalaureate program as a freshman. Benefits for theeducational institutions include elimination of the need for multiple articulation agreements andthe need to reverse articulate coursework to provide reliable retention and graduation data foraccountability.This abstract should be reviewed by the 2-year community college division.

Nelson, J. K., & Smith, M. E., & Ellis, M. M. (2012, June), Associate of Science Degree Program to Facilitate Transfer of Students from Two-year to Four-year Engineering Programs Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--20994

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