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Development Of Perspective In A General Engineering Degree

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Liberal Education for 21st Century Engineering

Tagged Division

Liberal Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.421.1 - 15.421.12



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Paper Authors

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Robert Grondin Arizona State University

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Chell Roberts Arizona State University

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

Development of Perspective in a General Engineering Degree


In fall of 2004, a team of faculty at Arizona State University (ASU) was tasked with the creation of a new undergraduate engineering program for ASU’s Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Arizona. ASU already had a full suite of traditional engineering programs taught in the Ira A Fulton Schools of Engineering on its Tempe campus. These programs all offered a disciplinary specific degree and generally emphasized a rigorously analytical approach to learning. In most cases, nearly all credits not used to satisfy university general studies requirements were allocated to math, science and engineering. These programs in fact closely approximated the description that one finds in chapter 2 of Sheppard et al.1. This team was asked to avoid duplicating any of these degrees. Otherwise, the slate was clean. After extensive discussions, it was decided to build a general engineering program that emphasized three values: engaged learning, agility and a focus on the individual.

As our goal was ABET accreditation, we developed a set of program outcomes, one of which we called perspective. The perspective outcome is:

An understanding of the role and impact of engineering in contemporary business, global, economic, environmental and societal contexts.

In this paper we will discuss the structure of our program, our hopes for student demographics, how it relates to our student’s life goals, the logic behind the development of the perspective outcome, the methods by which we pursue its development in the student and an assessment of our relative success in our first generation of graduates.

Differentiating Values

As mentioned above, the main constraint that we faced in our program design was how to differentiate our new engineering program from those already in existence at ASU. While accreditation would supply an official distinction, we felt that this would probably not be of great concern to many entering freshmen. We looked for other ways of differentiating our program from others. We settled on three differentiating values. None of these is unique to us but we believed that we had an opportunity to build a program that emphasized these values. We selected engaged learning, agility and a focus on the individual.

Engaged learning means utilization of pedagogical approaches other than lecture. In our case, we decided to build a program in which a distinguishing feature was a project course every semester. This provides us with an excellent example of what Sheppard et al.1 call a professional spine. Agility has two aspects. First, it is in part an aspirational goal for our graduates. We wish for them to be agile. This in fact is very similar to one of the attributes of the Engineer 20202. The NAE Engineer 2020 report describes it this way:

Grondin, R., & Roberts, C. (2010, June), Development Of Perspective In A General Engineering Degree Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16231

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