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Challenges of Developing a New Academic Minor for Junior Faculty: A Case Study of Developing a New Marine Construction Minor without a Civil Engineering Major Program

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Ocean and Marine Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Ocean and Marine

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Paper Authors


Farzam S. Maleki P.E. Massachusetts Maritime Academy Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Farzam S. Maleki is an associate professor of engineering in Massachusetts Maritime Academy. He is a professional engineer and has a Ph.D. in civil engineering - hydraulic engineering from Clemson University.

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Gail M Stephens P.E. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

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Gail M. Stephens, PE, is an Associate Professor, and the Energy Systems Engineering Program Coordinator in the Engineering Department at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA). Gail holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Naval Architecture from the United States Naval Academy and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Pennsylvania State University. Prior to joining the MMA, Gail served as a Civil Engineer Corps officer of the United States Navy for almost 10 years, worked in private industry, and co-founded two companies one in product development and the other in the service industry.

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Successful engineers work in a collaborative nature across a multitude of engineering disciplines. While specialization exists in post-graduate education, it is vital to expose the undergraduate student to a broad spectrum of engineering disciplines with which he/she may be exposed in their chosen career. Furthermore, in order to train the engineers of tomorrow, it is imperative for educators to introduce new teaching methodologies and demonstrate collaboration wherever possible; at the respective university and with industry partners.

One way to achieve the desired outcome is to create an academic minor. An academic minor can be used by the university for a number of purposes: (1) expose undergraduates to a related or growing field (2) gauge academic interest for development of a new academic major, (3) grow the university undergraduate student population by offering another major, (4) provide support for local or national industry needs, (5) provide essential experience to undergraduates in preparation for the entry into the work environment (enhance their academic credentials or add to their resume), and (6) provide faculty opportunities of professional development or conduct research in an area of interest to them.

At the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) students are trained and educated to work in a marine environment and they learn how to work on job sites through a number of required cooperative education placements. Currently, MMA offers three engineering majors, i.e. Marine Engineering, Facilities Engineering and Energy System Engineering along with three academic minors, i.e. Energy Management, Facilities Operations, and Marine Construction (MC). The newly developed minor, MC, is a civil/construction related minor degree with focus on both nearshore and offshore construction. The minor was first proposed in 2016 and began offering courses to the initial enrollment of 3 students in year 2017.

Like any other new major/minor, the main challenge is to attract students to consider this new minor and have sufficient enrollment for each class to be able to run. Consequently, student retention is another important factor.

Periodic educational plan review, support from administration, and alumni involvement are all found to be essential in the success of a minor. The first few years of starting the minor can be considered as the most important time frame in the development and promotion of a minor and requires extra planning, resources, and effort. This paper intends to share the experience of the authors in creating a new minor in a non-related major and can be used as a guideline for junior faculty members, especially in smaller institutions with fewer resources, who are interested in learning more about the challenges of developing a new minor.

Maleki, F. S., & Stephens, G. M. (2019, June), Challenges of Developing a New Academic Minor for Junior Faculty: A Case Study of Developing a New Marine Construction Minor without a Civil Engineering Major Program Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32501

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