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Interdisciplinary Electives In The Upper Level Engineering Curricula

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

New Approaches in Engineering Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.725.1 - 7.725.4



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Paper Authors

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P. Mohana Shankar

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Raj Mutharasan

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

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Session 2002-67

Upper Level Interdisciplinary Courses in the Engineering Curricula

Raj Mutharasan and P. M. Shankar 1 2

1 Frank A. Fletcher Professor of Chemical Engineering 2 Allen Rothwarf Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Abstract: A new type of ID courses has been developed that explores the emerging areas of engineering. The goal here is to expose engineering students, regardless of their discipline, to technologies that have not yet matured, but are likely to. The primary driver is to induce a sense of excitement in the new and evolving engineering disciplines. The course is organized into short modules with multiple lecturers, and at a technical level not to exceed the science and math requirement of a typical junior student. First edition of the course was taught in Spring 2001. During academic year 2001/02 this course will be taught twice. Feedback from both instructors and students are extremely positive. Presentation will include description of the course structure, our experience (administrative and academic) thus far, and an analysis of course assessments.

Background. Since 1994, every entering engineering student follows an integrated curriculum map designated as the new Drexel Engineering Curriculum (tDEC). Four main features of this curriculum are curricular integration at the lower level, emphasis on experiential learning, teaching by engineering faculty in the lower curriculum and the requirement of interdisciplinary (ID) courses in the upper curriculum. Previously various authors from Drexel have reported on the first three features (ref). In this paper we address our progress on the ID courses in the curriculum.

Motivation. We expect new engineers of the 21 st century to work in a team environment where the team members may be of different discipline. Furthermore, the undergraduate preparation at Drexel is designed to include integrated courses in the upper curriculum somewhat similar to the freshman/sophomore courses. O ver the years, we developed several interdisciplinary courses. Examples are: Engineering Biotechnology, Quantum Structure of Materials, Statistical Analysis of Engineering Systems, Fundamentals of Manufacturing, Concurrent Engineering, and Process Physical Chemistry. These courses are content driven, and enabled a student to acquire detailed knowledge about the subject matter, provided the student has adequate prerequisites. That is, these courses are designed for a specific discipline. For example, concurrent engineering, although is interdisciplinary in character, is primarily for mechanical engineering students, while the process physical chemistry is designed for a junior in chemical engineering curriculum.

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Mohana Shankar, P., & Mutharasan, R. (2002, June), Interdisciplinary Electives In The Upper Level Engineering Curricula Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11167

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