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Industry Fellows: A Model for Industry-Academic Collaboration in the Engineering Classroom

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Curricular Innovations in College-Industry Partnerships

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.866.1 - 22.866.14



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Paper Authors


Josh Tenenberg University of Washington, Tacoma

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Josh Tenenberg is a Professor in Computing and Software Systems at the University of Washington, Tacoma. He employs the behavioral and social sciences in analysing and designing the relationship between people and technologies. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the ACM Transactions on Computing Education.

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Industry Fellows: A model for industry-academic collaboration in the engineering classroomA recent major study on Engineering Education calls for rooting 21st century EngineeringEducation in professional practice (Sheppard et al. 2009), echoed in reports of prominent taskforces on professional education (NAE 2004, Sullivan & Rosin 2008). Yet there are threeinterrelated challenges to doing so. First, while college professors have expertise in teaching,they often lack the modern practices required in fields that are constantly changing. Second,while professional practitioners possess state-of-art technical skills, they generally have neitherthe time to “moonlight” as instructors, nor the knowledge of teaching to serve as effectiveuniversity instructors. And third, students have difficulty in relating their academic studies to thework that they will do as professionals.This paper describes the Industry Fellows model, a novel attempt at addressing each of theseinterrelated challenges. Industry Fellows involves a university faculty member and a practicingindustry professional (the industry fellow) in the joint curriculum review, planning and deliveryof a course related to the professional's domain of expertise. The faculty member retains fullresponsibility for all academic aspects of the course: planning and writing the syllabus,developing the assignments and examinations, and assigning grades. The professional aids thefaculty member in reviewing the course curriculum, joins the faculty member in the classroomregularly as a co-lecturer, interacts directly with the students, and evaluates a sample of thestudent work on an advisory basis. Targeted courses are those tied closely to professionalpractice.In this paper, I describe how the Industry Fellows model has been carried out in severalcomputing courses at a public university in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. These vary fromheavyweight instantiations in which industry fellows attend a weekly 2-hour class sessioninteracting face-to-face with students, to lightweight instantiations in which fellows participateusing remote videoconferencing to interact with students for only 15 minutes per week. I alsodetail how the Industry Fellows model is novel, inspired by but distinct from past attempts tolink practitioners and academics, such as guest speakers from industry, industry professionalsmoonlighting as teachers, industry advisory boards, and student internships.Evaluative pre- and post- student surveys, interviews with participating industry fellows, andreflective reports by the instructor indicate that all participants benefit. Industry fellows reportsatisfaction at having contributed to undergraduate education while learning new teaching skills.The faculty member reports learning about new practices, lasting changes to their coursecurriculum, and greater relevancy of course content. And students report stronger links betweentheir academic coursework and professional practice, and higher motivation to engage in thecourse material and learn.This paper concludes by highlighting the key characteristics of the Industry Fellows model, withlinks to supporting research: division of labor along lines of expertise (Collins & Evans 2009),using authentic artifacts of practice to mediate the industry fellow-student interactions (Vygotsky1978, Wertsch 1991), and an emphasis on intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan 2000) to encourageparticipation by faculty and industry fellow.References CitedCollins, Harry and Robert Evans, Rethinking Expertise, University of Chicago Press, 2009.Deci, Edward and Richard Ryan. The „What‟ and „Why‟ of Goal Pursuits: Human Needs and theSelf-Determination of Behavior. Psychological Inquiry 11(4):227–268, 2000.National Academy of Engineering. (NAE) The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in theNew Century. National Academies Press, 2004.Sheppard, Sheri, Kelly Macatangay, Anne Colby and William Sullivan. Educating Engineers:Designing for the Future of the Field, Jossey-Bass, 2009.Sullivan, William and Matthew Rosin (eds). A New Agenda: Shaping a life of the mind forpractice, Jossey-Bass, 2008.Vygotsky, Lev. Mind in Society: the development of higher psychological processes. HarvardUniversity Press, 1978.Wertsch, James. Voices of the Mind: A Sociocultural Approach to Mediated Action, HarvardUniversity Press, 1991.

Tenenberg, J. (2011, June), Industry Fellows: A Model for Industry-Academic Collaboration in the Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18152

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