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Introducing Systems Thinking to the Engineer of 2020

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Conference

2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Civil Engineering Education and Workforce Development Challenges

Tagged Division

Civil Engineering

Page Count

16

Page Numbers

22.961.1 - 22.961.16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/18173

Download Count

19

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Paper Authors

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Chris R. Rehmann Iowa State University

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Chris R. Rehmann is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering at Iowa State University. He has served as assistant chair for undergraduate affairs since 2010. His teaching mainly involves hydrology, hydraulics, and environmental fluid mechanics, and his research focuses on mixing in lakes, rivers, and oceans. He has served as an associate editor of Limnology and Oceanography and the Journal of Hydraulic Engineering since 2005.

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Diane T. Rover Iowa State University

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Diane T. Rover received the B.S. degree in computer science in 1984, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in computer engineering in 1986 and 1989, respectively, from Iowa State University. Dr. Rover has been a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State since 2001. She recently served as Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs in the College of Engineering from 2004 - 2010. Prior to that, she served as associate chair for undergraduate education in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 2003 - 2004. She began her academic career at Michigan State University, where, from 1991 - 2001, she held the positions of assistant professor and associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. From 1997 to 2000, she served as director of the undergraduate program in computer engineering at MSU. She also served as interim department chair in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering from 2000 to 2001. She was a research staff member in the Scalable Computing Laboratory at the Ames Laboratory under a U.S-D.O.E. Postdoctoral Fellowship from 1989 to 1991. Her teaching and research has focused on the areas of embedded computer systems, reconfigurable hardware, integrated program development and performance environments for parallel and distributed systems, visualization, performance monitoring and evaluation, and engineering education. She currently serves as principal investigator for NSF STEP and S-STEM grants in the college.

Dr. Rover is a member of the IEEE Computer Society, the IEEE Education Society, and the ASEE. She currently serves as an officer of the ASEE ECE Division. From 2006 - 2009, she served on the IEEE Committee on Engineering Accreditation Activities (CEAA), and in 2009, was appointed to the ABET Engineering Accreditation Commission. Since 2002, she has been an IEEE ABET/EAC Program Evaluator in computer engineering. She served as Senior Associate Editor for the Academic Bookshelf for the ASEE Journal of Engineering Education from 2000 - 2008. She received an NSF CAREER Award in 1996.

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Mark Laingen Iowa State University

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Mark is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Agricultural and Bio-systems Engineering at Iowa State University. His research involves the study of outcomes assessment of student competencies in relation to continuous improvement in higher education.Mark's undergraduate work concentrated on the study of integrated manufacturing systems and holds a B.S. in Industrial Technologies, and a M.S. in Technology with a focus in Training and Development, and in Project Management.

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Steven K. Mickelson Iowa State University

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Associate Chair, Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Director, Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
Co-Director, Iowa State University Learning Communities

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Thomas J. Brumm Iowa State University

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Dr. Tom Brumm is Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State. He is Professor-in-Charge of Engineering Online Learning (http://www.eol.iastate.edu/) and the Center for Distance and Online Learning in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. He is the Director of Assessment for the College of Engineering. His research focuses on biorenewables, student learning and outcomes assessment. He is a past chair of the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Division of ASEE.

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Abstract

Introducing Systems Thinking to the Engineer of 2020Our program aims to have the engineer of 2020 become proficient in four pillar areas: leadership,innovation, global awareness, and systems thinking. Each pillar is introduced in three weeks in afreshman-level seminar and reinforced in half of a semester in a year-long sophomore-levelseminar. For the systems thinking pillar, students are expected to explain the advantages ofsystems thinking over a traditional linear or reductionist approach and apply tools used insystems thinking. In particular, students identify connections between subsystems with richpictures, explain relationships between subsystems with causal-loop diagrams, and sketch thebehavior over time of key variables in the system.In the first offerings of the classes, students applied systems thinking to the challenges ofproviding abundant clean water, renewable non-polluting energy, safe roads and bridges, accessto modern health care, sustainable agriculture and manufacturing, and protection from naturaland man-made disasters. In the freshman-level class, students concentrated on drawing the richpicture for one of these areas. In the sophomore-level class, students studied a specific problemrelated to these areas, such as the 2010 flooding around our campus and the massive traffic jamon China’s National Highway 110. The students explained the connections and relationshipsbetween engineering, social, business, political, environmental, cultural, and ethical aspects ofthe problems they studied. In written reports and oral presentations students discussed their richpictures, causal-loop diagrams, and behavior-over-time graphs and identified lessons learnedfrom the systems thinking approach.After the freshman-level class, students wrote reflections that indicated the discussion andactivities helped acquaint them with a previously unfamiliar topic. In the final presentations forthe sophomore-level class, students noted an appreciation for the importance—and sometimesdominance—of non-engineering factors in an engineering problem. We will describe the systemsthinking modules that we used in these two classes, relate them to other work on incorporatingsystems thinking in an engineering curriculum, summarize the lessons learned in using themodules, and recommend ways to improve them to achieve the learning outcomes moreeffectively.

Rehmann, C. R., & Rover, D. T., & Laingen, M., & Mickelson, S. K., & Brumm, T. J. (2011, June), Introducing Systems Thinking to the Engineer of 2020 Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18173

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