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Integrated Design, Experimentation, Analysis And Life Skills (Ideals) Courses

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.603.1 - 6.603.8



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Paper Authors

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Martin Trethewey

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John Gardner

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Thomas Litzinger

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

Session 2566

Integrated Design, Experimentation, Analysis and Life Skills (IDEALS) Courses

Thomas Litzinger, Martin Trethewey, John Gardner

Penn State University/Penn State University/Boise State University


A number of teaching/learning reforms are underway in the College of Engineering at Penn State to enhance student learning with a special focus on providing opportunities for students to apply and integrate their knowledge and skills, and to develop lifelong learning skills. All of the reforms use problem-based, collaborative learning approaches to achieve the simultaneous development of professional and technical skills by requiring students to practice these skills in an integrated fashion, within a realistic context. In the reform effort underway in Mechanical Engineering, courses are being developed in an IDEALS format, where IDEALS refers to Integrated Design, Experimentation, Analysis, and Life Skills. Here “life skills” are professional skills such as communication skills, team skills, and lifelong learning. To date, two different approaches to the IDEALS courses have been piloted, a one-credit course, which links to core courses the students are taking concurrently, and an IDEALS version of a three-credit required course. In this paper, the two pilot courses are described along with student evaluations of the courses and faculty assessment of the effectiveness of the approaches.


Industry, academia, professional societies, and the federal government have been calling for enhancement of engineering education to properly prepare students for success in the highly competitive, global marketplace. The NSF report, Shaping the Future,1 points out that “too many graduates go out into the workplace ill-prepared to solve real problems in a cooperative way, lacking the skills and motivation to continue learning.” The NRC report, Engineering Education: Designing an Adaptive System,2 asks many questions about engineering education including: “Does engineering education integrate the fundamentals well enough with design and experimentation?” The ABET EC2000 criteria emphasize the importance of both technical and professional skills through the outcomes common to all engineering programs, with six of eleven of these outcomes relating to professional skills such as communication skills, team skills, and lifelong learning.

One very difficult challenge facing engineering programs today is how to meet the escalating expectations for engineering education without increasing credit hours or burdening students

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Trethewey, M., & Gardner, J., & Litzinger, T. (2001, June), Integrated Design, Experimentation, Analysis And Life Skills (Ideals) Courses Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9404

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