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Curricular Efficiency: What Role Does It Play in Student Success?

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Trends in Engineering Education 1

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.344.1 - 24.344.12



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Paper Authors

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Jeffrey Wigdahl The University of New Mexico


Gregory L. Heileman University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16

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Gregory (Greg) L. Heileman received the BA degree from Wake Forest University in 1982, the MS degree in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1986, and the PhD degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Central Florida in 1989. In 1990 he joined the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, where he is currently a Professor. He received the School of Engineering's Teaching Excellence award in 1995, the ECE Department Distinguished Teacher Award in 2000. He held ECE’s Gardner Zemke Professorship from 2005-08. He was the recipient of ECE’s Lawton-Ellis Award for combined excellence in teaching, research, and student/community involvement in 2001 and again 2009. In 2009 he was also awarded the IEEE Albuquerque Section Outstanding Educator Award. From 2005-2011 he served as Associate Chair (Director of Undergraduate Programs), and led the department through two ABET accreditation visits. In 2011 he became an ABET program evaluator. Since 2011 he has served as the Associate Provost for Curriculum at the University of New Mexico. During 1998 he held a research fellowship at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, and in 2005 he held a similar position at the Universidad Politénica de Madrid. His research interests are in information security, the theory of computing and information, machine learning, and data structures and algorithmic analysis. He is the author of the text Data Structures, Algorithms and Object-Oriented Programming, published by McGraw-Hill in 1996.

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Ahmad Slim University of New Mexico


Chaouki T. Abdallah University of New Mexico

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Chaouki T. Abdallah started his college education at the Ecole Supérieure d'Ingénieurs de Beyrouth - Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut, Lebanon, but finished his undergraduate studies at Youngstown State University, with a Bachelors of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering in 1981. He then obtained his MS and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from GA Tech in 1982, and 1988 respectively. He joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of New Mexico where he is currently professor and was the chair between 2005 and June 30, 2011. Since July 1, 2011, Professor Abdallah is the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at UNM.
Professor Abdallah conducts research and teaches courses in the general area of systems theory with focus on control and communications systems. His research has been funded by national funding agencies, national laboratories, and by various companies. He has also been active in designing and implementing various international graduate programs with Latin American and European countries. He was a co-founder in 1990 of the ISTEC consortium, which currently includes more than 150 universities in the US, Spain, and Latin America. He has published 7 books, and more than 300 peer-reviewed papers. His PhD students hold academic positions in the USA and in Europe, and senior technical positions in various US National Laboratories. His complete resume may be found HERE.
Professor Abdallah is a senior member of IEEE and a recipient of the IEEE Millennium medal. He is also active in the IEEE Control Systems Society most recently serving as the general chair of the 2008 Conference of Decision and Control CDC 2008.

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Curricular Efficiency: What Role Does It Play In Student Success? Abstract In this paper we consider how engineering curricula may be “streamlined” in order toaddress a measure we refer to as curricular efficiency. We then demonstrate how curricularefficiency correlates to student academic success—in particular, the effect it has on improvedgraduation rates, and the number of credit hours accumulated while pursing a degree. Inthis work, the degree plan for a curriculum is represented as a directed graph, with eachclass as an individual node, and co/prerequisites as edges between them. Graph-theoreticmetrics are then developed and applied to engineering degree plans at a number of publicfour-year institutions. In addition, student success data at the class level is adapted to createa weighted directed graph from which a cumulative curricular efficiency metric is obtained.One use for this metric is to provide a tool for evaluating curricular features and the abilityto compare these to programs at other universities in order to guide possible curricularchanges. Computer code was developed to support this effort and has been adapted to pullinformation directly from the University of New Mexico degree plans website in order toautomatically generate curricula graphs and compute relevant metrics. We discuss caseswhere universities have improved curricular efficiency, addressing the challenges that werefaced, and the resulting completion statistics.

Wigdahl, J., & Heileman, G. L., & Slim, A., & Abdallah, C. T. (2014, June), Curricular Efficiency: What Role Does It Play in Student Success? Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20235

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