Asee peer logo

Designing and Implementing an Online Offering of a Nuclear Engineering Curriculum

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering: Curricula and Courses

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.409.1 - 25.409.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Simin Hall Virginia Tech

visit author page

Simin Hall is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (ME) at Virginia Tech (VT). She earned her Ph.D. in education and statistics and a post-master's certificate in adult learning and college teaching from the University of North Carolina and holds degrees from Virginia Tech in engineering science and mechanics and mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics. She has research and applied experience at Virginia Tech, Westinghouse, and Babcock and Wilcox (AREVA) focused in the areas of structural engineering, seismic, and loss of coolant accident analyses in nuclear power generation plants. She has been designing online courses since 2006. In 2010, with an education grant from Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) she completed the online design of the graduate nuclear engineering certificate program. In 2011, the new education grant from NRC, allowed initiating the design of two new nuclear graduate courses for the Master program. Her applied research in education is in cognitive functioning using online learning technologies. She has redesigned two undergraduate courses in thermodynamics for online/distance delivery at the ME Department at VT. She is a co-author on a chapter that is published in the book titled "Cases on building quality distance delivery program: Strategies and experiences," Huffman, S., Albritton, S., Wilmes, B. (editors). Hershey, Penn.: IGI Global. She maintains research and publishing tracks in nascent interdisciplinary trust concepts, eLearning, and innovative teaching, learning in fields of statistics and research methods, engineering, medical fields, and assessment methods.

visit author page


Catherine T. Amelink Virginia Tech

visit author page

C. T. Amelink is currently serving as the Research Analyst and Assessment Specialist for the Dean’s Office, College of Engineering, Virginia Tech. Previously, she worked on assessment initiatives with the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning, Division of Student Affairs, and the Center for Excellence in Undergraduate Education at Virginia Tech and as the Assessment Coordinator for undergraduate education at University of Maryland University College. She is a graduate of the Ph.D. program in educational leadership and Policy Studies at Virginia Tech.

visit author page


Deyu Hu Virginia Tech

visit author page

Deyu Hu has 20 years of experience in instructional design and development. Hu leads the instructional design and development team in the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning at Virginia Tech. She collaborates with the university’s academic faculty, staff, and others across the university to create high quality courses that integrate technology effectively with teaching and learning principles.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Education Innovation in the Virginia Tech Nuclear Engineering CurriculumVirginia Tech restarted its nuclear engineering program in the Fall of 2007. The program hasgrown from a class enrollment of 60 students to about 200 students in 2009. When we restartedour program, we took the opportunity to be innovative and find ways to differentiate our programfrom other programs nationwide. In addition, we targeted the nuclear industry within Virginia byoffering the majority of our graduate nuclear engineering curriculum via distance learning. Weinitially started with live video teleconferencing to remote sites and recorded lectures for delayedplayback. However, students with extensive travel schedule or a heavy work load during theweek have been unable to take these classes. In addition, we have received many frequentrequests to transmit classes to sites that cannot support high resolution live videoteleconferencing. This paper presents the development and implementation of our onlinegraduate nuclear engineering courses using asynchronous and synchronous technologies with theeducation grant from Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Discussion focuses on theinstructional design employed which is informed by theories, principles, and heuristics that havebeen validated for adult education by cognitive science and/or empirical educational research(Hofer, 2009; Wlodkowski, 1999, 2003) and processes used by the Virginia Tech Institute ofDistance and Distributed Learning (IDDL) that relies on a structured life cycle methodology foronline course development. Conclusions will review where we are at with regard to coursedesign and delivery, the number of students reached through online offerings, and students’perceptions of their online learning environment. In Fall 2009, we started using an open source course management system for delivery andmanagement of our course materials. This has allowed us to incorporate social software featuressuch as blogs, discussion forums, chat rooms, and wikis to promote greater interaction betweenstudents during learning, processing of information, and problem solving. Not only do thesetechnologies aid the student in learning, but they also aid interaction with the instructor. Forexample, the chat room feature is used for virtual office hours and blogs and forums take theplace of email conversations. In addition, new software features allow recording videos andpodcasts on various topics that may not be covered in the lecture. For example, additional onlinehelp is provided for helping students get up to speed on necessary math skills for solvingproblems.Hofer, B. (2009). Motivation in the college classroom. In W. J. McKeachie & M. Svinicki(Eds.), MeKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and universityteachers (pp. 140–150). Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.Wlodkowski, R. J. (1999). Enhancing adult motivation to learn: A comprehensive guide forteachingall adults, 2nd ed. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.Wlodkowski, R. J. (2003). Fostering motivation in professional development programs. NewDirections for Adult and Continuing Education, 98, 39–47.

Hall, S., & Amelink, C. T., & Hu, D. (2012, June), Designing and Implementing an Online Offering of a Nuclear Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21167

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015