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

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

NSF Grantees' Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.649.1 - 23.649.9



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Paper Authors


Jane Hunter University of Arizona

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Dr. Jane Hunter is the associate director of the Engineering Management program at the University of Arizona. In addition to her responsibilities in Engineering Management, she oversees the required entry-level course Introduction to Engineering at the University of Arizona which enrolls 600+ students. She is actively involved in the high school version of the course that is offered at twenty-three high schools in the southwest United States. Dr. Hunter is the principal investigator for a NSF Transforming Undergraduate Engineering Education in STEM (TUES) grant to develop innovative, web-delivered units based on the Grand Challenges for Engineering. In addition, she is Key Personnel on a NSF ITEST grant awarded to the Southwest Institute of Research on Women (SIROW). Her B.S. and M.S. degrees are in Engineering and her Ph.D. is in Higher Education. Her primary research interest is developing educational materials that portray engineering as a profession that helps people for lower-division undergraduate and K-12 students.

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James C. Baygents University of Arizona

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James C. Baygents is the associate dean for Academic Affairs in the College of Engineering at the University of Arizona. Baygents is a member of the Department of Chemical & 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, Baygents 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 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. Baygents’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 UpdateIn August, 2011, researchers in the College of Engineering at a public Research I university inthe southwest United States received an NSF Transforming Undergraduate Education in STEM(TUES) Type I grant for a project titled “Transforming the Undergraduate EngineeringExperience: Using the Cyberinfrastructure to Introduce the Grand Challenges for Engineering”.At the core of this project, since renamed the GC DELI (Grand Challenges Discover, Explore,Learn and Imagine), is the development of novel, learner-centered, internet-based lines of study,for a required entry-level engineering course. The strategy is to give students an opportunity tochoose an area of particular interest and to provide innovative education materials through whichthey can explore important, contemporary engineering topics. Each four-week line of study isknown as a Unit. The topics for the Units are tied to the Grand Challenges for Engineering, andwere selected based on a survey conducted in the entry-level course. The six GC DELI Units are:  Energy, Water & the Environment (pilot Unit)  Make Solar Energy Economical  Provide Access to Clean Water  Engineer Better Human Health  Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery  Restore and Improve Urban InfrastructureThe Unit on Energy, Water and the Environment was developed and refined over severalsemesters that preceded the TUES award. The five new Units were: modeled after the originalUnit; developed by faculty members with research and professional expertise in the selectedtopics; and successfully piloted in two sections of the introductory engineering course in Spring2012. All of the Units use a wide variety of tools and strategies to encourage students to takecontrol of their learning while they explore the societal, global, environmental and economiccontext of the problems that captured their interest. Results from the Spring 2012 pilot areencouraging, with two thirds of the students indicating that the opportunity to choose a topic toexplore had a positive impact on their learning. Moreover, a significant number of studentsindicated an increase in commitment to engineering, following the completion of the Units.Student surveys and focus group discussions following the pilot uncovered some problems withthe workload for two of the Units. Students enrolled in these two Units spent considerably moretime on the assigned tasks than students enrolled in other Units. Furthermore, some of the taskswere perceived to be “busy work”. This imbalance seemed to negatively impact students’attitudes toward the two Units and engineering in general. Based on these formative evaluations,a number of important refinements are underway and the updated Units will be launched ineleven sections of the course in Fall 2012. In a parallel effort, the Units are being adapted for ahigh school version of the course taught to approximately 400 students distributed across twenty-three high schools in the southwest United States. In the paper to be presented, we will report onthe salient findings that stem from these continued curricular offerings and modifications. Inparticular, we will examine the effect of the Units on student commitment to engineering. Withthe larger number of participants in the full-scale implementation of the GC DELI, we expect tohave sufficient data to test our original hypothesis that women and Hispanic students'commitment to engineering will increase more than that of students who are notunderrepresented in engineering.

Hunter, J., & Baygents, J. C. (2013, June), Grand Challenges DELI (Discover, Explore, Learn, Imagine) Project Update Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19663

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