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Development And Assessment Of A New Project/Practice Based Civil Engineering Curriculum

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Advances in Civil Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.422.1 - 9.422.14



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Paper Authors

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Matthew Dettman

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

Development and Assessment of a New Project / Practice Based Civil Engineering Curriculum Matthew A. Dettman, P.E. Western Kentucky University

1. Introduction

Western Kentucky University is currently in the process of developing a new undergraduate engineering programs in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering focusing on engaging the student in a project / practice based environment and preparing them for a career as a practicing engineer. This paper will discuss the process of developing the civil engineering program that began with the creation of goals for the engineering department up to the present day with a clearly defined set of programmatic objectives, outcomes and assessment tools. This paper will also discuss some of the principle lessons learned, including that the true essence of the project based curriculum is not necessarily in the list of outcomes, but in the way they are assessed and the student products generated.

Much of the work involved in the program development was based on interaction with regional constituencies, potential employers of graduates, attendance at ABET workshops, and research into effective methods of delivering a practice oriented engineering education. In addition, select universities from across the country were visited to see how they had created unique workspaces for student activities. Data was gathered for design and construction of the new engineering building at WKU, which broke ground in May of 2002 and will be ready for students in the Fall of 2004. The paper will discuss how the new facility was designed and built around the student in a project-based environment. The programs are currently scheduled for the first ABET visit in the fall of 2004. The faculty involved in the program feel that the end of the beginning has been reached and that the program is well on it’s way to developing an “engaging experience” which is student focused and meshed very closely to ABET and the outcomes assessment process.

2. History of Development of the Engineering Programs at WKU

The initiative to establish engineering programs at Western Kentucky University has developed over a significant period of time. Discussions among campus administrators as early as 1993 established the concept as a viable direction for institutional development. Discussions with selected academic, industrial, political, and economic development leaders focused on identifying an appropriate set of goals for the initiative. The goals were expressed with respect to the desired outcomes and included the following key goals that related specifically to the curriculum and accreditation:

• Programs in engineering will be designed and implemented to be project-based and the activities of faculty and students will be focused around applied research projects for regional industries and other entities.

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Dettman, M. (2004, June), Development And Assessment Of A New Project/Practice Based Civil Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13320

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: © 2004 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