June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
24.350.1 - 24.350.9
Curriculum Revision to Better Integrate Mechanical Engineering Science and Practice in the 2nd and 3rd Undergraduate YearsThe mechanical engineering program at Michigan Tech has been engaged in a curriculumrevision process since 2010. The implementation of the new curriculum will take place overthree years, starting in Fall 2014. The revision recognizes that engineering work, engineeringstudents, and educational methods are changing. The program faculty consideredrecommendations from external entities such as ASME, the National Academy of Engineering,and the Carnegie Foundation. We also investigated innovative curricula at other institutions.The Engineer of 2020 will change job functions more frequently than engineers of the past, andthus the NAE cites practical intuition and agility as desired attributes. A Carnegie Foundationreport finds that “the tradition of putting theory before practice…[allows] little opportunity forstudents to have the kind of deep learning experiences that mirror professional practice.” Basedon analysis of industry needs, two of the seven recommendations of the ASME 2030 task forceare more practice-based engineering education and curricular flexibility. Education researchershave identified a “valley of despair” in the 2nd and 3rd years. Whereas students do project work inthe first and fourth years, in the second and third years, many do not see the connection betweencourse work and engineering work; as a result, both motivation and confidence decrease. Finally,engineering work today relies heavily on computational tools that are now widely available. Thenew tools can create more realistic models of messy real systems. More consistent use of thesetools throughout the curriculum can further strengthen student understanding of the fundamentalsand allow them to address more complex problems. New engineering programs, such as those atOlin College and James Madison University, are taking a different approach to engineeringeducation by challenging lower division students with complex open-ended problems and byinfusing project work throughout the four-year curriculum.The large number of mechanical engineering students at Michigan Tech presents challenges toimplementing more project-based courses, but size has advantages too: well equippedlaboratories, a mature industry sponsored senior design program, and diverse faculty expertise.The new curriculum makes two major changes:1. It introduces four new practice-based courses that replace four lab courses and a 3rd year design processes course. These are project-based courses that integrate a number of content threads in the second and third years: application of core course concepts; programming, modeling, and simulation; instrumentation, measurement, and data acquisition; structured design process; making and tinkering; communication.2. It reduces the number of core courses and increases the number of technical electives.This paper will describe the content of the new courses and the processes used to engage facultyand staff in the development of the curriculum.
Miller, M., & Allen, J., & Blough, J., & De Clerck, J. P., & Endres, W. J., & Miers, S. A., & Miskioglu, I., & Odegard, G. M., & Van Karsen, C. D., & van Susante, P. J. (2014, June), Curriculum Revision to Better Integrate Mechanical Engineering Science and Practice in the Second and Third Undergraduate Years Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20241
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