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Curriculum, Pedagogy, And Assessment In Engineering Education Reform

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Curricular Change Issues

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.366.1 - 9.366.11



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Paper Authors

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Gearold Johnson

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Thomas Siller

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

Session 2630

Constituent Influences on Engineering Curricula

Thomas. J. Siller and Gearold R. Johnson Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO


It seems that engineering education has lost track of the big picture of what engineering curriculum is and should be. Curricula should be designed within the context of a good understanding of the components of the curriculum and the broader context surrounding the curriculum.

The topic of changes in engineering education is often used without specificity. We have decided that curriculum change usually consists of moving the boundaries that make up the elements of the engineering curriculum. Boundaries exist between the components that comprise the engineering curriculum. These boundaries change, or move in response to the various calls for curriculum change. Therefore it is important to not only define the boundary locations, but also the contents within the boundaries. For example, if you asked engineering educators what skills an engineering education should provide its graduates they would probably use words like graduates should be well-grounded in analysis skills (problem solving capabilities); able to synthesize (do engineering design); and have essential social skills including both written and oral communications, an understanding of ethics, teamwork, leadership, etc. Therefore, if these are the components of the curriculum then our view of curriculum change is about how much of each of these components should be included in an undergraduate engineering program.

The early origins of engineering education in the United States grew out of the apprenticeship roots of the profession1. Up to the time of World War I, engineering education included more practical training than theory and mathematical analysis. Engineering education in the U.S. started to change after World War I as an influx of European professors brought along their more scientific and mathematical tradition involved with research.

Following World War II, undergraduate engineering programs became more and more analytical. Because of the success of physicists during World War II with design and development of weapons like the atomic bomb and radar defense systems, engineering came to be more and more like applied physics. The Russian launch of Sputnik in December 1957 accelerated the movement of the engineering curriculum toward applied physics. Until the mid 1970s, few engineering programs contained any design projects and social courses in writing (composition) were confined to successfully passing, or having waived based on some

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education”

Johnson, G., & Siller, T. (2004, June), Curriculum, Pedagogy, And Assessment In Engineering Education Reform Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13162

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