June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
14.764.1 - 14.764.17
Integrating Professional Topics and Engineering Constraints Across the Curriculum Abstract
Most of us do not learn a skill the first time we try something. Same is true for engineering knowledge and attitudes. Therefore, developing engineering knowledge, skills, and attitudes cannot be relegated to single coverage within the curriculum. Topics must be introduced and wrestled with early in the curriculum, sustained through additional application during intermediate years, and engrained through integrated application during senior design. The concepts of globalization, public policy, and leadership and engineering constraints such as sustainability and ethics are introduced within the freshman engineering experience, cultivated during the sophomore and junior years, and analyzed and applied through senior year and senior design. It is through this integration across the curriculum that students develop a fuller understanding of these professional and design topics.
Based on experience teaching the senior design course and as an ABET program evaluator (PEV), students applying engineering constraints for the first time in the curriculum during the senior design will not attain the level of performance and integration desired in ABET Outcome 3.c – “ability to design a system, component or process to meet needs within realistic constraints such as…”. The same is true for professional topics such as demonstrating professional and ethical responsibility (3.f), engagement in life-long learning (3.i), function on a multi-disciplinary team (3.d), communicate effectively (3.g), and apply knowledge of contemporary issues (3.j). These topics are sometimes relegated to the senior seminar during the last semester before graduation if formally covered at all. If they are difficult to master and assess, then why are they continually addressed and sometimes demonstrated only once in the curriculum? PEV experience highlights that programs tend to not focus on what they do not understand.
ABET experience also highlights that many programs either have weak multi-discipline design experiences and/or do not consider more than economics when it comes to engineering constraints. During the early accreditation visits under EC2000, programs were expected to consider most if not all of the engineering constraints. Students wrestling with the constraints for the first time barely scratch the surface of understanding these constraints within their designs. Recently ABET1 changed the wording of the outcome to “engineering constraints such as regulatory, economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, constructability, and sustainability.” Either it was recognized that not every design project would consider most of the engineering constraints or it might be impossible to get students to fully consider most of the engineering constraints. The new wording does require programs to consider more than one but not all engineering constraints within student design projects. Still it appears that many programs primarily focus on economics even at the senior level
Welch, R. (2009, June), Integrating Professional Topics And Engineering Constraints Across The Curriculum Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4956
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