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Developing A Fundamentals Of Engineering (Fe) Based Competency Module For A Freshman Engineering Course

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.430.1 - 11.430.7



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Paper Authors


Keith Williamson East Carolina University

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Dr. Keith Williamson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Technology Systems at East Carolina University. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University. Dr. Williamson’s current research is focused on University/K12 partnerships and thermo-mechanical processing. He was previously on the faculty in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Old Dominion University.

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Gene Dixon East Carolina University


Paul Kauffmann East Carolina University

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Paul Kauffmann is Professor an Chair of the Department of Technology Systems at East Carolina University. Prior to his academic career , he worked in industry where he held positions as Plant Manager and Engineering Director. Dr. Kauffmann received a B.S. Degree in Electrical Engineering and MENG in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech. He received his Ph.D. degree in Industrial Engineering from Pennsylvania State University and is a registered Professional Engineer.

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Tarek Abdel-Salam East Carolina University

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Dr. Tarek Abdel Salam is an Assistant Professor of Engineering in the Department of Technology Systems at East Carolina University. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Old Dominion University. Dr. Abdel-Salam's current research is focused in the areas of computational fluid dynamics and computer assisted learning technologies.

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

Developing a Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) Based Competency Module for a Freshman Engineering Course

Abstract The tenets of professionalism in engineering practice require that engineers function within their areas of expertise in order to benefit society. The rapid pace of technological change in today’s economy challenges this notion of narrow focus by placing a premium on the multi-disciplinary skills of generalists rather than deeper , more narrowly focused skills of the specialists. As engineering students enter a marketplace characterized by rapid technological change, there is a growing need for educators to reconsider approaches to problem solving. New approaches would address preparing today’s engineering graduates to solve problems for a broader assortment of products and processes than past generations of engineers. In emerging areas like nanotechnology, the products and processes may involve new principles that engineers learn and apply on their own. This paper reports on a freshman engineering problem-solving module developed to broaden students’ perspectives on formulating and constructing their own student-made problems as a way to improve problem solving skills and assess knowledge of fundamental principles. The paper discusses students’ application of elementary mechanics concepts to solve problems typically found in FE review manuals. The paper also reports on laboratory exercises that help students explore notions of competency by developing their own FE assessment questions from elementary mechanics.

1. Introduction More often than not, first and second year engineering students see problem solving as merely finding answers to homework problems that lack strong connection to their experiences outside of class. For some students, the frustrations with solving problems for which they do not connect to personal experiences may be enough to cause them to withdraw from the engineering major. Others might develop a disregard for the personal meanings and neglect associations between the assigned problems and the broader concepts discussed in class. For traditional approaches to engineering education, the significance of these early connections are sometimes overlooked because deeper connections are expected to occur later when knowledge of specific facts are blended together within the curriculum to provide the foundation for life-long problem-solving skills1. The culminating capstone course is usually the point of synthesis for traditional cognitive theory based approaches to engineering education. These capstone courses are expected to help students broaden their perspectives on how to integrate theoretical and practical knowledge and how to reflect on practice. Within the last decade, employers and leading educators have been complaining that this synthesis, as it pertains to life-long learning and expertise, may not be enough for new graduates to compete in a fast changing global marketplace for engineering services. These leaders suggest that new graduates need: (a) better communications skills; (b) an ability to work in multidisciplinary teams; and, (c) an ability to leverage information technology and

Williamson, K., & Dixon, G., & Kauffmann, P., & Abdel-Salam, T. (2006, June), Developing A Fundamentals Of Engineering (Fe) Based Competency Module For A Freshman Engineering Course Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--161

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: © 2006 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