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Design of an International Joint Course on Grand Challenges for Engineering

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

International Educational Experiences (1)

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Amy Trowbridge Arizona State University

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Amy Trowbridge is a Lecturer and Director of the Grand Challenge Scholars Program in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Her teaching focuses primarily on first year engineering students, and she is interested in curricular and co-curricular experiences that broaden students’ perspectives and enhance learning.

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Ang Liu University of New South Wales

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Dr. Ang Liu is a senior lecturer and Director of Engineering Design at the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, the University of New South Wales, Australia.

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This paper presents an international joint course on the subject of National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges for Engineering (GCE), which is collaboratively developed byArizona State University in the USA and University of New South Wales in Australia. In the fall semester of 2016, a total of 28 undergraduate engineering freshmen (15 ASU and 13 UNSW students) were carefully selected to participate in this joint course. Videoconferencing technology was employed to support the synchronized lectures on a weekly basis, and a variety of information and communication technologies were utilized to support team collaborations. The main course components included: weekly lectures, team project, individual research paper, and cross-cultural exercise. More specifically, a total of 20 lectures were offered on a biweekly basis (twice a week), which included 5 special guest lectures delivered by experts who specialize on different GCE topics (i.e., cyber security, sustainable manufacturing, personalized learning, bioenergy, etc.). The class was divided into 6 globally distributed project teams to identify a GCE, analyse relevant needs, and propose a future solution. Students from the same university were tasked to work together to produce a mini-movie to present their observations of the culture of their home campus. Students also utilized digital portfolios in the course to complete reflections on class content related to each Grand Challenge theme area. It should be noted that, ASU operates a well-established NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program that enrols more than 100 students every year. Through the knowledge transfer initialized by the joint course, UNSW aims to gradually launch its own Grand Challenges for Engineering program locally in Australia.

This work provides information about the course and describes the outcomes of the course as related to the students’ experience, instructor’s experience, and comparison to other courses. Formal assessment of course effectiveness was not completed in this pilot effort. To solicit feedback from participating students about their experience in the course, a focus group was conducted at UNSW and written feedback from small groups of students was obtained at ASU. Last but not least, some lessons learnt will be reflected by the course instructors with respect to, for example, how to design the course schedule constrained by the time and calendar difference, how to divide responsibilities between the collaborating instructors, and how to grade assignments in consideration of different grading policies.

Trowbridge, A., & Liu, A. (2017, June), Design of an International Joint Course on Grand Challenges for Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28118

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