July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Design in Engineering Education
For over half a century, the “Project-Based Engineering Design Innovation & Development” (ME310) course has engaged Stanford University graduate students in industry-sponsored projects focusing on various phases of integrated design thinking through engineering fabrication. In recent decades, in synchrony with the growing demands of today’s design engineering professionals, these projects have advanced an innovation focus both in process and outcome. Yet, evidence of how the course experience has contributed to entrepreneurial interests lies primarily in anecdotal examples and stories about the career trajectories of former students and how they have gone on to leverage their prototypes into commercial products. As a result, this research paper examines the impact of intensive course-based design experiences such as ME310 on the entrepreneurial outcomes and innovation behaviors of alumni through the design and implementation of an alumni survey aimed at gathering feedback and input into specific curricular efforts.
Administered to over 800 alumni covering a 25 year span from 1992-2018, the ME310 Alumni Survey included demographic questions and items organized around three areas: 1) educational background and career decisions such as first job after completing the course and current or most recent job; 2) attitudes towards memorable and meaningful experiences in the course including key projects, assignments, and skills and abilities acquired; and 3) entrepreneurial outcomes and self-efficacy measures focusing on innovation and design thinking. This focus on the course experience as the unit of analysis resulted in new insights and a deeper understanding of intended and unintended learning outcomes as informed by the responses of former students based on their career choice pathways in a variety of industry sectors and the ‘lessons learned’ and takeaways from the course and reported over time. This longitudinal approach to course alumni surveys can be adapted for and implemented in other courses and environments for purposes of curriculum refinement and quality improvement in order to accommodate the needs of key stakeholders including the faculty and teaching team, alumni, and current and future students.
Sheppard, S., & Chen, H. L., & Toye, G., & Kempf, F., & Elfiki, N. (2021, July), Decades of Alumni: What Can We Learn from Designing a Survey to Examine the Impact of Project-based Courses Across Generations? Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36894
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