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Experience Based Instruction In Engineering Education

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Experienced-Based Instruction

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.549.1 - 8.549.9

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Paper Authors

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Ronald Meade

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

Session 3515

Experience-Based Instruction in Engineering Education

Ronald B. Meade, PhD, PE, Associate Professor Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering, USAF Academy

Students mature during their engineering education moving from being a student of science and technology to becoming an apprentice engineer. This process will occur regardless of the practical experience held by the engineering faculty. However, maturation may be deepened by the apt use of experienced-based instruction (EBI). This paper examines the usefulness of engineering experience as a teaching tool.

Assessment of student readiness and receptivity should be considered in determining when to use experienced-based instruction. EBI can motivate the student by showing relevance of the topic and appealing to the student’s sense of curiosity or adventure. EBI can broaden the topic by altering the “point-of-view” of the student. And last, EBI can allow the student to get a sense of what is expected from an engineer by his clients, employer, peers, and the public.

Deciding how to insert the engineering experience requires planning. Reading assignments, videos, web-based information, personal stories, role-playing exercises, simulations, games, and carefully crafted problem-solving exercises are tools that play a part in the delivery of EBI.

This paper discusses the use of EBI in a series of geotechnical courses offered to juniors and seniors at the US Air Force Academy (USAFA). The when and how issues are illustrated in four courses that include an introductory course, two required courses and a design elective. The success and limitations of EBI are examined with emphasis on when and how to insert meaningful, effective and appropriate EBI.


A graduate of an engineering curriculum is expected to have the background, experience, and capabilities to begin a career in engineering. The new graduate will seek employment where he/she will work under the supervision of experienced engineers. The path to becoming an entry- level engineer is completion of an ABET-accredited curriculum. Within the curriculum a variety of opportunities such as lectures, labs, field trips, case studies, and projects are organized to permit the student schooled in the basics of science and technology to develop into an apprentice engineer. This paper focuses on incorporation of the teacher’s engineering experience into his/her teaching style. The teaching style that is infused with lessons drawn from experience in engineering practice is called experience-based instruction (EBI).

All engineering instruction is to some degree experience-based. Experienced engineers know the skills needed by entry-level engineers. The engineering community influences the content of engineering curricula to ensure that necessary topics are addressed. The presentation of the instruction provides an opportunity to address more than facts, principles, and methods of analysis and design. The introduction of engineering practice experience into the delivery of engineering instruction can assist and enrich student development. The teacher should understand when and how to bring his engineering experience to bear on the teaching process.

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Meade, R. (2003, June), Experience Based Instruction In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2003 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015