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Integration of General Education into the Senior Capstone Class in Engineering

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Assessing Literacies in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

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Paper Authors


Patricia R Backer San Jose State University

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Dr. Backer been a faculty at SJSU since 1990 and held positions as an assistant professor, associate professor, professor, department chair, and director. Since coming to San Jose State University in 1990, I have been involved in the General Education program. Currently, Dr. Backer serves as the PI for two SJSU grants: the AANAPISI grant and the Title III Strengthening grant both from the U.S. Department of Education.

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Laura E Sullivan-Green San Jose State University

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Dr. Laura Sullivan-Green is an Associate Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at San José State University. She obtained her BS from the University of Dayton (Dayton, OH) in 2002 and her MS (2005) and PhD (2008) from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL). She teaches in the areas of Geotechnical Engineering, Engineering Mechanics, and History of Technology. Her research interests include evaluating crack age in construction materials, forensic engineering education, and engineering education pedagogy. She serves on the SJSU Academic Senate and the Forensic Engineering Division of the American Society of Civil Engineers. Laura is the co-PI for the Department of Education’s First in the World Grant awarded to San José State University, in partnership with Cal Poly Pomona and California State University- Los Angeles.

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Over the past few years, San Jose State University (SJSU) has mandated that all of the undergraduate degree programs including engineering degrees be set at 120 units. With the existing number of units for the BS engineering degrees, this mandatory requirement has led to new innovations in General Education (GE) at SJSU. We have created a two-course sequence to support the integration of upper division General Education into the engineering major. Advanced GE at SJSU is designed to help students become integrated thinkers who can see connections between and among a variety of concepts and ideas. In the College of Engineering at SJSU, we believe that it is critical that engineering students integrate the GE student learning outcomes into their engineering studies. In these two courses, students are challenged to understand the relationship of engineering to the broader community both in the U.S. and worldwide. In addition to the assignments in this course, the engineering faculty have created linked activities in the senior project courses that allow the students to apply these concepts to your engineering disciplines. The engineering senior level general education classes take a case study approach. Each case study module will have specific deliverables including written materials and resource links, a set of discussion questions, and a set of written assignments. In addition, the themes addressed (and the discussion questions) for each module would then provide guidance for the students in writing their end of semester “application papers” where they consider the issues inherent in their own senior design project. This presentation will describe the implementation of this hybrid GE/senior project course and will present the assessment of the first year of this program’s implementation.

Backer, P. R., & Sullivan-Green, L. E. (2016, June), Integration of General Education into the Senior Capstone Class in Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25423

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