June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Design in Engineering Education
11.541.1 - 11.541.11
Engaging ECE Students in the Practice of Engineering
The design sequence at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology has a long tradition of educating students in the practice of engineering. A new course has been created to introduce students to the ECE design sequence. Engineering Practice, a 2-credit junior offering, has goals centered on learning and practicing team skills and applying the design process to a goal-based design project. The course is designed around two basic concepts: a fun Legos robotic project and in- class teamwork on the majority of assignments. The teams are given a scenario and Product Design Specification (PDS), or Requirements Specification, along with a project timeline. The project solution is presented in a competition at the end of the term, the results of which count for pride, but not for grade. Assessment of course objectives (and thus course grades) are through demonstrations of team communication skills and written assignments such as meeting minutes and agendas, project presentations in the form of a design review and test plan, and a team final report. The students are seen applying course-supplied techniques in their team process and design and test of their robotic solutions. The course is structured to allow for peer- reviewed writing assignments, professional development, and team skills coaching. The course also provides a convenient opportunity to discuss relevant professional issues such as professionalism, ethics, registration, and engineering societies. Student feedback on the course has been positive, and students carry enthusiasm into subsequent design sequence courses.
Engineering is a practice and profession built upon a number of foundational blocks. An engineering student needs to prepare a strong mind, collect a number of tools for problem solving, and master a number of professional skills in a surprisingly short four-year degree program1. A program focusing solely on science and engineering is simply not capable of preparing today’s students to be educated professionals in the engineering world.
At Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT), we have added extra emphases to help our graduates excel after graduation, including a design sequence emphasizing professional practice in a design environment. This experience is grounded not only in an academic study of professional practice, but also in the industrial experience of the faculty and an entrepreneurial emphasis present at RHIT. An interesting validation of this idea may be found by looking at what some engineering employers expect of their candidates – the Boeing Corporation website2 has a collection of criteria which closely match the content of the RHIT curriculum.
One particularly important part of engineering that is not stressed well in tradition science and engineering courses is the design process. While we often give “design problems”, these are often just homework problems with only a slight degree of openness in the design variables, and often intended to be worked on in the same manner as the other homework problems. In the practice of engineering however, the process of design is applied to very open-ended problems by teams working in a rather open environment, quite dissimilar to the way most students have learned to work. It is therefore very unlikely that design problems or even projects in traditional classes can give students a chance to experience and practice design skills and teamwork as it
Voltmer, D., & Ferguson, B. (2006, June), Engaging Ece Students In The Practice Of Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1424
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