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Engineering Education Outside the Classroom: Engagement in Professional Societies

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2014 ASEE International Forum


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 14, 2014

Start Date

June 14, 2014

End Date

June 14, 2014

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session 2

Tagged Topic

Curriculum and Lab Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

20.16.1 - 20.16.11



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Paper Authors

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Achille Messac Mississippi State University


James N Warnock Mississippi State University

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James Warnock is the Interim Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University. His background is in biomedical engineering and he has been a big proponent of self-directed learning and active learning in his classes and was the first person to introduce problem-based learning in the department of agricultural and biological engineering at MSU. James is also the Adjunct Director for training and instruction in the professional services department at ABET. In this role, Warnock oversees the development, planning, production and implementation of the ABET Program Assessment Workshops, IDEAL and the assessment webinar series. He also directs activities related to the workshop facilitator training and professional development.

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Masoud Rais-Rohani Mississippi State University

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Masoud Rais-Rohani is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and Professor of Aerospace Engineering in the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State University (MSU). He received his BS and MS degrees from MSU and PhD from Virginia Tech, all in aerospace engineering.

He has integrated both computer-based and experiential-learning activities into multiple engineering courses including the senior-level Aerospace Structural Design. More recently, he investigated the use of Emporium model in redesign of the introductory engineering mechanics course.

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Engineering Education Outside the Classroom: Engagement of Professional Societies  Engineering professional societies play an important role in the educational experience forstudents. Participation in societies provides opportunities for students to reinforce professionalskills, primarily their recognition of the need for life-long learning and an understanding ofethical and professional responsibility. However, few students take advantage of the availableresources and do not appreciate the importance of professional society membership until aftergraduation. To increase participation in professional society activities, the Bagley College ofEngineering at Mississippi State University (MSU) introduced a college-wide technical societyinitiative. The purpose of the initiative is to encourage student integration in their discipline andpromote professional development through active participation in society events.The college is comprised of eight departments, housing 10 undergraduate programs and 22graduate programs. For logistical reasons, only a single technical society was selected for eachdepartment. The numbers of students joining a technical society through this initiative were:Aerospace Engineering 222 students (94% of eligible students), Biological Engineering 277students (71% of eligible students), Chemical Engineering 268 students (74% of eligiblestudents), Civil and Environmental Engineering 343 students (90% of eligible students),Computer Science and Engineering 280 students, (85% of eligible students), Electrical andComputer Engineering 391 students (84% of eligible students), Industrial and SystemsEngineering 192 students (97% of eligible students), Mechanical Engineering 616 students (82%of eligible students). Overall, the college observed membership in technical societies increasefrom 19.5% to 82% and 33% to 96% at the undergraduate and graduate levels, respectively, witha combined membership of 83% for all eligible (i.e. full time) students.Membership in technical societies has numerous benefits for students. Firstly, students haveaccess to more professional development opportunities. Most notably is the prospect of attendingnational and regional society meetings, reinforcing their recognition for the need to be life-longlearners and providing networking opportunities with potential employers and graduate schools.Secondly, student membership is required for those wanting to participate in many of thecompetitions sponsored by technical societies. Examples include the ASCE concrete canoe andsteel bridge competitions, and the ASME Human Powered Vehicle competition. Participation inthese competitions helps reinforce students’ teamwork skills, problem solving ability andcommunication. Finally, technical societies offer several resources to members that can beutilized in class assignments. Departments with high membership levels (>90%) haveincorporated resources such as webinars, trade journals and conference archives into severalcourse assignments throughout their curricula. This allows students to develop their self-directedlearning skills and have access to the most recent research data. Additionally, throughparticipation in student chapter meetings, students will develop cohorts and departmental pride,which is expected to increase retention, especially at the freshman level.In conclusion, the Technical Society Initiative has been successful with significant numbers ofengineering students becoming members of their professional society. We anticipate thisinitiative will lead to improved development of professional skills and graduates being betterprepared for engineering practice.

Messac, A., & Warnock, J. N., & Rais-Rohani, M. (2014, June), Engineering Education Outside the Classroom: Engagement in Professional Societies Paper presented at 2014 ASEE International Forum, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--17179

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