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Curricula To Educate The 2020 Mse Engineering Professional: Simple But Powerful Changes In The Way That Mse Is Taught

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Materials Science and Engineering of 2020

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

11.379.1 - 11.379.11



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Paper Authors

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Linda Vanasupa California Polytechnic State University

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Blair London California Polytechnic State University

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Katherine Chen California Polytechnic State University

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Richard Savage California Polytechnic State University

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

Paper submission to ASEE 2006 meeting L. Vanasupa, B. London, K.C. Chen, R. Savage

Curricula to Educate the 2020 MSE Engineering Professional: Simple but powerful changes in the way that MSE is taught

Linda Vanasupa, Blair London, Katherine Chen, Richard Savage Materials Engineering Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407,,,,

ABSTRACT National leaders in science and technology sectors speak in unison as they call for engineers who are not only technically competent in their fields, but who possess the abilities to communicate well, to work on teams, to apply systems thinking, to operate in the global business environment, to design within a greater set of constraints (environmental, health and safety, sustainability, economic, societal, political, manufacturability, and ethical). In short, our challenge is to educate an engineering professional who is far more sophisticated than the engineer of the 20th century. Additionally, challenges brought on by the overuse of natural resources put a special responsibility on materials science and engineering (MSE) faculty, whose role it is to assist in shaping the MSE profession. How can faculty deliver relevant curricula for the MSE engineering professional in an already crowded curriculum? Certainly curricular content must be up-to-date. However, a number of the goals can be met through changing the way in which the curriculum is delivered. In particular, we have emphasized mastery at the lower levels to increase retention, and implemented a number of learning “best practices”. Our preliminary results are promising: within one year, we were able to reverse a five-year trend in declining enrollment; we have just finished our fourth consecutive year of 100% on-time completions of senior projects; students exhibit a shift in mindset towards a greater awareness of their professional responsibility to serve humanity. In this paper, we will provide a survey of the techniques that we have used along with some preliminary results from our program.


Globalization, the information age and prosperity have come together in the late 20th century to create a host of challenges that threaten the survival of the planet and its inhabitants. The danger signs are everywhere: ubiquitous toxins that damage the animal and human reproductive prospect1; global-scale non-renewable use of natural resources2; and the looming end to readily- available fossil fuels3, which largely run the global economic machine. Many of our problems have been inadvertently brought on by way of advances in technology. The key to meeting these challenges, as Einstein has warned, lies in ways of thinking that are different from the ones that created the problems. The engineers of the 21st century must be able to see the interconnectedness of society, technology and ecosystems. They must be aware of a set of design constraints that extends beyond the economic and technical aspects of an engineered product. The need for a more sophisticated engineering professional is expressed in part through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) 2005 accreditation criteria, elevating the role of global, environmental, sustainability, society, ethical, health and safety issues in engineering programs4. These engineers, working together across the disciplines, will hopefully bring about a sustainable world economy.

Vanasupa, L., & London, B., & Chen, K., & Savage, R. (2006, June), Curricula To Educate The 2020 Mse Engineering Professional: Simple But Powerful Changes In The Way That Mse Is Taught Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1459

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