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Exploring Student Impressions of and Navigations through a Flexible and Customizable Multidisciplinary Engineering Program

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Capstone Courses

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Marissa H. Forbes University of Colorado Boulder

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Marissa H. Forbes is a research associate at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead editor of the TeachEngineering digital library. She previously taught middle school science and engineering and wrote K-12 STEM curricula while an NSF GK-12 graduate engineering fellow at CU. With a master’s degree in civil engineering she went on to teach physics for the Denver School of Science and Technology (DSST), where she also created and taught a year-long, design-based DSST engineering course for seniors. Forbes earned her PhD in civil engineering with an engineering education research focus.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacquelyn Sullivan is founding co-director of the General Engineering Plus degree program in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She spearheaded design and launch of the Engineering GoldShirt Program to provide a unique access pathway to engineering for high potential, next tier students not admitted through the standard admissions process; early findings revealed significant challenges in calculus readiness. Sullivan was conferred as an ASEE Fellow in 2011 and was awarded NAE’s 2008 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

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Beth A Myers University of Colorado Boulder

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Beth A. Myers is the engineering assessment specialist for the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a BA in biochemistry, ME in engineering management and is currently a PhD candidate studying engineering education at the College of Engineering and Applied Science. She has worked for the University of Colorado in various capacities for 17 years, including as a program manager for a small medical research center and most recently as Director of Access and Recruiting for the College of Engineering and Applied Science. Her interests are in quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis related to equity policies in education.

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Derek T Reamon Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder

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Derek Reamon is the Co-director of the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program (ITLP) and the Engineering Plus (e+) degree program, and a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. As ITLP co-director, he coordinates 19-22 sections of First-year Engineering Projects, a course that has a proven benefit on retention within engineering and is also a nationally recognized model for freshman design courses. The e+ program has created a flexible engineering degree and a pathway to secondary math and science teaching licensure, to increase the numbers of STEM teachers that have strong engineering design backgrounds. Derek is also an award-winning teacher and was most recently awarded the John and Mercedes Peebles Innovation in Education from CU’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. Dr. Reamon received his PhD in engineering education from Stanford University in 1999. His dissertation was one the first in the nascent field of engineering education research.

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Last year, the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder inaugurated a flexible, customizable and design-focused multidisciplinary undergraduate engineering degree program, built on a common engineering core, with a hands-on engineering design focus throughout all four years. Predicated upon the belief that students know what is best to meet their own career and personal interest needs, the curriculum branches out so students choose many courses to pursue their individual passions. Different than the traditional restrictive engineering curricular models that act as barriers to student migration into engineering programs, the curricular flexibility and choice in the Engineering Plus (e+) program makes transferring into the program more navigable, without necessarily extending time to graduation and its corresponding cost. The academic pathways of individual students who have migrated into and out of the budding e+ program are explored to understand who a multidisciplinary, choice-enriched, design-focused program is drawing in and who is opting out. Early program findings, including results from two student focus groups, serve as an opportunity to learn from engineering students experiencing academic flexibility and customization, decipher the lessons they hold for engineering education policymakers and educators, and pose the creation of more curricular choice as another pathway to broaden participation and improve engineering educational outcomes.

Forbes, M. H., & Sullivan, J. F., & Myers, B. A., & Reamon, D. T. (2016, June), Exploring Student Impressions of and Navigations through a Flexible and Customizable Multidisciplinary Engineering Program Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26861

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: © 2016 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