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Engineering Education And The Continuous Improvement Process

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.428.1 - 6.428.18

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Paper Authors

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A. Jalloh

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Zheng-Tao Deng

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Amir Mobasher

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Ruben Rojas-Oviedo

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This paper discusses a business perspective of engineering education which is being applied at the Mechanical Engineering Department at Alabama A&M University to facilitate continuous improvement of the curriculum. This perspective has been developed to better position the program in the context of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) criteria 2000, which emphasizes an outcome-based philosophy. This paper examines the development, implementation and results of the use of assessment tools in seeking continuous program improvement in Mechanical Engineering at Alabama A&M University. Under the new ABET criteria 2000, engineering educators are being challenged to, not only, revise the content, depth and perspective of the engineering curriculum, but also to adjust, and adapt or re-invent traditional approaches to teaching and student progress’ assessment. Some educators ask: “why change traditional and proven methods”. To simply respond that engineering education faces a “new paradigm”, or that there are new accreditation rules, is insufficient. In order to discuss the continuous improvement challenge it is advantageous to change “hats” and consider ourselves as non-academicians whose business is part of, and directly influenced by a global economy. In the context of a global economy we find ourselves as consumers or/and suppliers of products or/and services, and as such we will, most likely, seek competitive products at competitive cost. Through a product/service perspective, we will find that engineering education is a knowledge- base activity that defies consistent product definition. We find that it is highly customer interactive, contains an abundance of intangible events and is geared to provide a unique educational experience, which borders into individualized instruction. As a consequence of this new perspective, we find that educators must negotiate/determine how to better meet the needs of each student and provide to them the necessary preparation to compete effectively for professional careers in engineering. To define new set-points in this determination, educators must find ways to continuously assess their success in meeting the needs of students to achieve their educational objectives. This is where assessment tools can be of utility. This paper examines a variety of assessment tools that have been developed/adapted and implemented by the chairperson and faculty of the department of Mechanical Engineering at AAMU to improve the program. The ME department assessment tools were designed to provide data for feedback, regarding program objectives, teaching practices, curriculum content emphasis, and student development of professional competencies In this paper, the authors advance the view that the continuous improvement process applied to educational programs serves to build and maintain a competitive engineering program. To effectively implement this process however, a buy-in consensus by faculty and students and the program’s other constituencies is required.

Jalloh, A., & Deng, Z., & Mobasher, A., & Rojas-Oviedo, R. (2001, June), Engineering Education And The Continuous Improvement Process Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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