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Evolution Of An Industrial Engineering Curriculum

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.246.1 - 4.246.8

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Paper Authors

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John E. Shea

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Thomas M. West

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




At the beginning of this decade, the structure of engineering curricula at most colleges and universities had existed since the early 1950’s, and reflected an emphasis on a solid foundation in math, science, and engineering science as expressed in the Grinter Report of 19551. The requirements for accreditation by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) reinforced this traditional structure of the engineering curricula.

The advent of ABET’s new engineering criteria, Engineering Criteria 2000 (ABET 2000), will significantly influence future directions in the development of engineering programs. As the new accreditation criteria begin to take effect, it is important to step back and reflect on the tremendous evolution that has taken place during the decade. This paper presents an overview of the curriculum and pedagogy changes that have occurred in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering (IME) department at Oregon State University (OSU). A review of the events and factors that shaped the changes makes it apparent that many people and events shaped a significant evolution in the undergraduate academic program.

Changes to the IME Curriculum

OSU’s College of Engineering (COE) awards approximately 500 undergraduate degrees annually in twelve programs housed in eight departments. The 12-quarter, 192 credit hour, curriculum is evenly divided into pre-engineering and professional engineering. Most of the pre- engineering curriculum is common to all of the departments. Because most of the pre- engineering courses are coordinated through the COE, improvements to the IME curriculum have focused primarily on upper division courses taught within the department.

Seventy-nine of the 192-quarter credit hours consist of IME courses. This portion of the curriculum has evolved with changes in the industrial engineering profession while maintaining a focus on traditional professional topics such as production scheduling, quality assurance, workplace and facility design, mathematical optimization, and manufacturing processes. Since the formation of the department in 1972, these courses have been taught using conventional instruction methods as summarized in the left-hand column in Table 1.

One consequence of this traditional evolution has been an engineering culture where engineers are characterized as being vertical (in-depth) thinkers who work individually, and who reduce problems to small, manageable and predictable pieces in order to apply their knowledge of science and technology2. The result has been the evolution of a self-selection process where the majority of students that select and stay in engineering are those who fit the culture.

Shea, J. E., & West, T. M. (1999, June), Evolution Of An Industrial Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina.

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