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Development and Implementation of a Cornerstone Course: Engineering Opportunities

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Technical Session 8: Project-based Learning and Cornerstone Courses

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.509.1 - 26.509.19



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Paper Authors


Kyle G. Gipson James Madison University

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Dr. Kyle Gipson is an Assistant Professor at James Madison University (United States) in the Department of Engineering (Madison Engineering) and the Center for Materials Science. He has taught courses pertaining to topics for first-year engineering, materials science and engineering, engineering design, systems thinking and engineering leadership. He has a PhD in Polymer, Fiber Science from Clemson University. His research background is in the synthesis of polymer nanocomposites and engineering education. He was trained as a Manufacturing Process Specialist within the textile industry, which was part of an eleven-year career that spanned textile manufacturing to product development.

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Justin J Henriques

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Sancho Sequeira

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DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLIMENTATION OF A CORNERSTONE COURSE: ENGINEERING OPPORTUNITESWhile graduates from traditional engineering programs are generally technically adept,they often lack the skills necessary for solving real-world complex challenges. Inresponse to the vision presented in the Engineer of 2020 Project, many engineeringeducators are reimagining courses and curriculum to provide students with opportunitiesto conceive, design, prototype and implement complex viable engineering solutions todynamic global issues.This paper will describe the development and assessment of a redesigned first yearcornerstone course called Engineering Opportunities. The course is built on a learner-centered platform that is intended to create an inclusive environment for first yearstudents to successfully transition from high school to college. The course content covershuman-centered design, systems thinking, and design thinking strategies oriented towardssolving multiple place-based design challenges. The intention of this high-impacteducational intervention within the first year for engineering students is to provide ourstudents with opportunities to become acclimated with the process of self-guided deeplearning.The structure of the Engineering Opportunities course draws inspiration from the modelof seminars, colloquium, and tutorials. Like a seminar, during class students often prepareand present their original written work for discussion and critique. In the style of acolloquium, the instructors often assign readings for each session that students discuss insmall groups. Finally, a small number of students work on a topic and meet with mentorsweekly for discussion and guidance as they would in a tutorial oriented class. The coursealso uses lecture, peer-mentor-led, and coordinator-led instruction.A mixed method assessment approach was used where focus group discussions werefacilitated and an instrument was designed to assess the incoming first year student’s (a)attitudes and perceptions about college and engineering as well as the (b) efficacy of thefirst year interventions. The assessment instrument focuses on: 1. Understanding the first year student’s attitudes and perceptions in transitioning from high school to college and into the engineering community. 2. Understanding the efficacy of interventions within the redesign cornerstone course for the purpose of aiding students in their academic careers and enhancing student learning.The data from the assessment project will provide baseline knowledge of our students forthe development of personalized academic guidance.

Gipson, K. G., & Henriques, J. J., & Sequeira, S. (2015, June), Development and Implementation of a Cornerstone Course: Engineering Opportunities Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23847

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