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Engineering Physics: The Universal Donor Degree

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Issues in Engineering Physics

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.554.1 - 10.554.10



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Paper Authors

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James McNeil

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

Engineering Physics: The Universal Donor Degree

J. A. McNeil Department of Physics Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Co. 80401

Introduction The ABET-accredited B.S. Engineering Physics program at the Colorado School of Mines has enjoyed major expansion in recent years - growing from 108 majors in 2000 to 230 majors today. Physics is now the fourth largest undergraduate program on campus. This growth followed three events: (1) curricular reform which reduced the overall credit load and concentrated most of the electives in the senior year, (2) the establishment of three 5-year programs that lead to a B.S. in Engineering Physics and an M.S. in a traditional engineering discipline, and (3) a vigorous marketing effort that emphasized the advantages of a course of study that offered a solid foundation in physics concepts and math literacy coupled to a wide mix of applications and practical hands-on experiences. The general applicability of physics fundamentals along with great curricular flexibility have allowed our Engineering Physics degree to become the "Universal Donor” degree for post-graduate studies in science or engineering. While contributing to our growth, these reforms have presented special challenges to our assessment/feedback program with so many different curricular and career paths for our students. This paper describes the program and discusses our approach to assessment/feedback as we prepare for our next ABET visit in 2006.

New Paradigm for Undergraduate Engineering Education Engineering has evolved considerably in the last 40 years. In 1960 there were a handful of undergraduate engineering disciplines. Civil, industrial, electrical, mechanical, or chemical engineering accounted for nearly all engineering bachelor degrees. An engineering bachelor's degree provided the apprentice engineer with the skills necessary to begin a career. With the great leaps in technical advances and increasing complexity in the world today, modern engineering practice has entangled the old disciplines and blended in new ones. This has necessarily placed greater emphasis on interdisciplinary teams and higher levels of education. To function effectively, such teams need leaders with breadth and depth of technical understanding as well as leadership and communication skills.

In addition, the information revolution has transformed the skill sets needed by our future engineers and when combined with the challenges of the global economy, has forced engineering educators to examine anew their curricular goals. Sophisticated software packages can now do much of the basic grunt work performed in the past by the apprentice engineer. As a result, the goals for engineering education should emphasize capabilities in what computers cannot do. One such area is creative engineering.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

McNeil, J. (2005, June), Engineering Physics: The Universal Donor Degree Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14773

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