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Enhancing Student Understanding Of And Interest In Mechanical Engineering

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Trends in Mechanical Engineering

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.552.1 - 13.552.12



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Paper Authors

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Aleksandra Vinogradov Montana State University

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Carolyn Plumb Montana State University

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

Enhancing Student Understanding of and Interest in Mechanical Engineering


The paper describes an effort to enhance student understanding of the mechanical engineering profession. A freshman course “Introduction to Mechanical Engineering” has been developed with the objective to address such topics as the necessity of good communication skills; professional ethics; the importance of innovation, critical thinking, team work, diversity, and life-long learning. The effectiveness of addressing these issues in a freshman course in comparison with the traditional approach to teaching an introductory mechanical engineering course has been assessed through a study involving student surveys administered in control and pilot class sections at the beginning and at the end of the course. The results of the study demonstrate that the pilot group of students exposed to novel course materials acquired enhanced understanding of the subjects identified by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) as professional skills.


In the past decades, significant strides have been made toward the development and implementation of innovative strategies aimed at achieving excellence in undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Such efforts reflect the overarching vision that the health of the U.S. economy in the 21st century directly depends on the nation’s ability to maintain its technological leadership in increasingly demanding, complex, and competitive international markets.

Recent studies conclusively demonstrate that America’s technological infrastructure must be transformed in order to maintain “a diverse, competitive, and globally engaged U.S. workforce of scientists, engineers, technologists, and well-prepared citizens.” 1-4 As an important measure required to meet these challenges, new engineering accreditation criteria, initially known as Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC 2000), have emphasized the necessity of combining the traditional requirements of rigorous technical preparation, or so-called “hard” skills, and the development of professional or “soft” skills, including such attributes as communication, ethics, critical thinking, and innovation.5

The EC 2000 ABET criteria, now part of the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) criteria, have created many new expectations in terms of enhancing, revising, and remodeling engineering programs. In response to new requirements, engineering schools have made consistent efforts to experiment with novel models for baccalaureate education, introducing innovative course curricula. Attention has been focused on first-year college programs with a view to bolster academic performance, stimulate students’ interest in the profession, improve

Vinogradov, A., & Plumb, C. (2008, June), Enhancing Student Understanding Of And Interest In Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3420

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