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Grand Challenges DELI (Discover, Explore, Learn, Imagine) Project

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.681.1 - 25.681.24

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Paper Authors


Jane Hunter University of Arizona

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Jane Hunter received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona Center for the Study of Higher Education. She holds an M.S. degree in engineering management and a B.S. degree with distinction in mechanical engineering. She is the Associate Director of the Engineering Management program at the University of Arizona and is a PMI-certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Her areas of interest include engineering education, teaching strategies, assessment and evaluation of program objectives and learning outcomes, student teamwork and group dynamics, business and technology management, strategic and operational planning, project management, and technical sales and marketing.

Prior to joining the University, Hunter worked for several companies, including IBM and Anaquest, Inc., as an engineer, engineering manager, technical sales professional, and Director of Informational Technology. At the University of Arizona, she oversees the freshman engineering experience, which includes the introductory engineering course required of entry-level students. She also teaches undergraduate/graduate courses in the Engineering Management program. She is a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), Project Management Institute (PMI), and American Society for Engineering Management (ASEM). She is the ASEM Southwest Regional Director. In addition, Hunter was recently named a McGuire Entrepreneurship Scholar.

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James C. Baygents University of Arizona

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James C. Baygents is the Associate Dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona. Baygents is a member of the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering (ChEE) and the Program in Applied Mathematics at the UA. Baygents joined the UA engineering faculty as an Assistant Professor in 1991, the same year he received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Princeton University. He also holds an M.A. (Princeton, 1981) and a B.S. (Rice, 1980) in chemical engineering.

For three years prior to joining the UA, Jim was a visiting scientist, then a research fellow, at the Space Science Laboratory of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. In 1995, he received the Arizona Mortar Board Senior Honor Society award for outstanding faculty service. In 1997, he was awarded an International Research Fellowship by the National Science Foundation for study at the University of Melbourne. In 2009, he was recognized by ChEE and the College for Excellence at the Student Interface. He is a member of the Phi Beta Kappa, Tau Beta Pi, and Phi Lambda Upsilon honor societies, as well as the College of Fellows at Rice University’s Will Rice College.

Jim’s research interests include transport processes in natural and engineered systems; separations and water treatment processes; diffusion-reaction-precipitation in aqueous electrolyte systems; electrokinetic theory, measurements, and separations; electrically driven fluid motion and transport processes, including microfluidics; pattern formation in caves associated with Karst water systems; and industrial water treatment for recycle and re-use.

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Grand Challenges DELI (Discover, Explore, Learn, Imagine) Project In Fall 2011, researchers in the College of Engineering at a public Research I university in the southwestUnited States received an NSF Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM (TUES) grant to developlearner-centered materials and strategies for an existing engineering course required of entry-level students.The strategy for the project is to give freshmen engineering and prospective engineering students—some ofwhom are still in high school—an opportunity to explore interesting and relevant topics of their choice. Fiveunique web-based lines of study, referred to as Elective Units, are designed to capture the interests of studentswith diverse backgrounds while encouraging higher-level thinking. The goals of the project are to increase thecommitment of freshman engineering students to the pursuit of engineering as an academic major and aprofession; and to increase the number of women and underrepresented minorities matriculating intoengineering. Prior to submission of the NSF TUES proposal, a pilot Elective Unit on Energy, Water & the Environmentwas developed and successfully incorporated into the course through a Learner Centered Course RedesignInnovation Grant funded by a state agency. The pilot was deemed successful because students performed wellon the graded homework assignments, quizzes and tests and, for the most part, found the material interestingand the activities worthwhile. For example, when asked what they liked best, students responded, “Diverselook at many different aspects of the current crises facing engineers”, “Interesting topics, especially renewableenergy”, “I felt like I was really enjoying what I was doing. I completed the assignments with enthusiasm” and“The best part of this was the relevancy to my world and the connections I was able to make between learningand my future.” In addition, students liked the online aspect of the Unit commenting that it was “self-paced”,“convenient”, “allowed for independent learning”, “helped me practice searching for online data within websites”and “everything was online, right in front of me”. When the TUES project was funded, participating engineering faculty members, with expertise in selectedtopical areas, proceeded to develop the five additional Elective Units, which were modeled loosely after thepilot Unit. The selection of topics for the Units was based on a Grand Challenges Interest Survey that wasadministered to 100+ students enrolled in the introductory course in Spring 2010. Students were asked toinvestigate the fourteen Grand Challenges for Engineering as established by the National Academy ofEngineering and to indicate which Grand Challenges they found most compelling as prospective engineers.Based on the results of the survey, the following Elective Units were established: 1.) Provide access to cleanwater, 2.) Make solar energy economical, 3.) Engineer better health, 4.) Restore and improve urbaninfrastructure, and 5.) Engineer the tools of scientific discovery. Video vignettes for each Elective Unit describethe engineering challenge and emphasize the important role that engineers play in solving these problems.Interviews with leading experts, shown in these vignettes, help students decide which Elective Unit(s) theywish to study for the four-week period. The preferred course management application at the university, Desire-2-Learn, provides access to a variety of educational experiences that appeal to a wide range of learning styles.With these tools, students take advantage of existing cyberinfrastructures, as well as newly-developedmaterials produced by the faculty members in association with their colleagues. The five new Elective Units will be piloted in Spring 2011 in two sections of the introductory courseinvolving approximately 90 students. Resulting student feedback and assessment will be used to enhance andrefine the Elective Units. During Summer 2012, a workshop will be conducted to educate the team ofinstructors on the benefits of learner-centered education strategies, as well as the technology and tools thatare available to enhance student learning through the Elective Units. The new materials will be launched in allon-campus sections, which encompass 600 students, in Fall 2012. Subsequently, the Elective Units will beadapted to the high school environment and introduced to ~400 additional students who take the course in apartnering network of high schools. Student performance on assignments, projects, quizzes and tests will beevaluated to assess the effectiveness of the teaching methodologies. In addition, students will be surveyed toevaluate whether their commitment to engineering is enhanced as a result of the Elective Units. Enhancedcommitment to engineering should help to achieve the long-term goal to increase the recruitment and retentionof students, particularly underrepresented students, in the College of Engineering.

Hunter, J., & Baygents, J. C. (2012, June), Grand Challenges DELI (Discover, Explore, Learn, Imagine) Project Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas.

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