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Cranking Up Cornerstone: Lessons Learned from Implementing a Pilot with First-Year Engineering Students

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Technical Session 3; The Best of All the FPD Papers

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count

23

DOI

10.18260/p.26595

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/26595

Download Count

150

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Paper Authors

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Susan F. Freeman Northeastern University

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Susan Freeman, is a member of Northeastern University’s Gateway Team, a group of teaching faculty expressly devoted to the first-year Engineering Program at Northeastern University. The focus of this team is on providing a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience that endorses the student-centered, professional and practice-oriented mission of Northeastern University.

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Courtney Pfluger Northeastern University

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Dr. Courtney Pfluger received her Doctoral degree in Chemical Engineering from Northeastern University in 2011. In the fall of 2011, she took a position as an Assistant Teaching Professor at Northeastern University in the College of Engineering as a part of the First Year Engineering Faculty with a focus on chemical engineering. She teaches the first year courses where are Engineering Design and Engineering Problem Solving. She also teaches senior Chemical Engineering Process Controls. She runs a faculty led international summer program to Sao Paulo, Brazil which focuses on Alternative Energy Technologies and Brazilian Culture.

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Richard Whalen Northeastern University

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Dr. Richard Whalen is a Teaching Professor at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and a core member of the Engineering Gateway Team. The focus of this team is on providing a reliable, wide-ranging, and constructive educational experience that endorses the student-centered and professionally-oriented mission of the University. He also teaches specialty courses in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at Northeastern and has published and presented papers on approaches and techniques in engineering education. He has won multiple Outstanding Teaching Awards at Northeastern and numerous Best Paper and Best Presentation Awards with fellow Gateway coauthors at ASEE.

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Kathryn Schulte Grahame Northeastern University

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Dr. Kathryn Schulte Grahame is an Associate Teaching Professor at Northeastern University. As part of her Gateway Faculty appointment she teaches freshman engineering courses as well as undergraduate civil engineering courses.

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Joshua L. Hertz Northeastern University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0650-5141

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Chirag Variawa Northeastern University

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Dr. Chirag Variawa teaches first-year engineering design at Northeastern University. He received his Doctorate in Industrial Engineering, focusing on Language Inclusivity in Engineering Education from the University of Toronto. His undergraduate degree is from the same institution, from the Dept. of Materials Science and Engineering.

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Jennifer Ocif Love Northeastern University

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Jennifer Love is a member of Northeastern University's Gateway Team, a selected group of faculty devoted to the First-Year Engineering Program. The focus of this team is to provide a consistent, comprehensive, and constructive educational experience in engineering that endorses the student-centered and professionally-oriented mission of Northeastern University.

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Mark L. Sivak Northeastern University

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Bala Maheswaran Northeastern University

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Bala Maheswaran, PhD
Northeastern University
367 Snell Engineering Center
Boston, MA 02115

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Abstract

Many colleges and universities have adopted a cornerstone curriculum for first year engineering core courses since the early 1990’s.(ref 1-5) Motivations for this approach include better career preparation for engineering students and improved engineering education in general. As a result of these initiatives, cornerstone courses may be taught by a dedicated group of faculty who have engineering experience in industry, who are more design-oriented as opposed to research-oriented, and who have exemplary teaching abilities that engage first-year engineering students.(ref 6,7) In 2012, after a comprehensive curriculum review by a faculty committee at Unknown U, the first-year engineering program decided to adopt the “cornerstone to capstone” curriculum design. The overarching goal of the cornerstone was the integration of design, programming, graphical communication, and engineering analysis through real world, hands-on design projects. This goal directly supports the interdisciplinary, student-centered approach recommended by the National Academy of Engineering’s Educating the Engineer of 2020 report (ref 8).

Additional motivation for the cornerstone approach came from student feedback, the changing profile of first year students, and increased access to affordable technologies such as programmable microcontroller kits and 3D printing. Today’s students are entering the university with more advanced placement credit and an increased level of experience with hands-on projects and technologies, such as electronics. This cohort of students are looking for more depth in exploring engineering and a sense of real world problems along with taking courses at an accelerated pace. First pilots of the cornerstone course included a 14-week, 390 minutes per week course, while logistical concerns led the second pilot study to include both a 14-week course and a 28-week, 195 minutes per week course. Several measures were reviewed to evaluate success of the cornerstone. In comparing course content artifacts from the previous courses to similar ones from cornerstone, the cornerstone students of similar entrance skills did as well as the previous students on tests, projects, quizzes and presentations. Cornerstone students also reported similar positive outcomes for learning in the new course compared to students in the traditional courses, and even reported how they couldn’t imagine the courses not integrated. Similar assessments are planned for the Fall 2015 8-credit 28-week pilot. Since the final cornerstone projects required students to build working prototypes that combined engineering and design concepts from both traditional courses, the integrated cornerstone approach successfully accomplished interdisciplinary learning, and additional themes have been developed for the current pilot. This paper will report on the motivations and lessons learned at Unknown U in implementing a cornerstone approach.

Bibliography

1. Allam, Y. S., Whitfield, C. A., & Phanthanousy, J. N. (2012). Scaffolding provided to engineering students in cornerstone design project scenarios related to practices of expert designers. American Society for Engineering Education Conference Proceedings, San Antonio, TX, Paper ID # 3920.

2. Donahue, S. K. (2012). The impact of a hybrid instructional design in a first-year design cornerstone course on student understanding of the engineering design process. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference Proceedings, San Antonio, TX, Paper ID #3555.

3. Doyle, T. (2009). Cornerstone design: Product dissection in a common first-year engineering design and graphics course. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference Proceedings, Austin, TX, Paper ID #2068.

4. Dym, C. L., Gilkeson, M. M., & Phillips, J. (2012). Engineering design at Harvey Mudd College: Innovation institutionalized, lessons learned. Journal of Mechanical Design, 134(8) doi:10.1115/1.4006890

5. Elzey, D. (2006). Teaching intro to engineering in context - UVA engineering's new cornerstone. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Chicago, IL, Paper ID #1574.

6. Brannan, K. P., & Wankat, P. C. (2005). Survey of first-year programs. American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Portland, OR, Paper ID #855.

7. Todd, R. H., & Magleby, S. P. (2004). Evaluation and rewards for faculty involved in engineering design education. International Journal of Engineering Education, 20(3), 333.

8. National Academy of Engineering. (2005). Educating the engineer of 2020: Adapting engineering education to the new century. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press.

Freeman, S. F., & Pfluger, C., & Whalen, R., & Schulte Grahame, K., & Hertz, J. L., & Variawa, C., & Love, J. O., & Sivak, M. L., & Maheswaran, B. (2016, June), Cranking Up Cornerstone: Lessons Learned from Implementing a Pilot with First-Year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26595

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