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Introengineering.Org: A Structured Wiki Community For Instructors Of First Year Engineering Courses

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

First-Year Advising and Transition

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.817.1 - 14.817.13

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Paper Authors


Jay Brockman University of Notre Dame

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Jay Brockman is the Associate Dean of Engineering for Educational Programs at the University of Notre Dame.

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Lynnwood Brown WikiRing Partnership

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Lynnwood Brown is a partner in WikiRing, an international wiki design and development consulting group.

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Michael McDonald John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Michael McDonald is Senior Acquisitions Editor for Engineering at John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract A Structured Wiki Community for Instructors of First-Year Engineering Courses


Assembling content for a broad-based, first-year engineering course poses unique challenges. In order to be successful, first-year instructors must typically tailor material to accommodate the background and interests of their students, as well as to prepare students for the specific majors available in their institution. While a traditional textbook can provide both a framework and validated content for a first-year engineering course, it is also highly unlikely that any single, conventionally published book could fully meet the needs of instructors across a broad range of schools. To address this problem, this paper describes an open, online wiki-based community where instructors of first-year engineering courses can share materials. The system was developed through collaboration between a textbook author, a traditional publishing house, and a wiki specialist. The paper describes the organization and usage of the system, as well as addresses the publisher’s perspective on this new technology in light of their changing business model.


Fundamentally, a first-year engineering program must accomplish two things. First, it must attract students who may not be familiar with engineering to consider it as an academic and career path. Second, it must prepare students for success in the second year and beyond. Meeting these goals, however, raises some critical challenges. For example, the way that students and instructors use educational materials is changing rapidly, while at the same time, the path to success and the metrics for measuring that success are evolving. This means instructors are forced to reevaluate how they design and implement the first year course, which is no small task given the scattered resources currently available from which to draw.

While the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) does specify standards for program outcomes, there is no standard “canon” of topics for an introductory engineering course—certainly not at the level of agreement as one might find in calculus, chemistry, or physics. This is especially true for introductory engineering courses that must address students destined for multiple specialties within engineering. Second, in order for an introductory engineering course to be stimulating to students, it must draw on real-world examples that are relevant to their daily lives. In addressing an ABET outcome such as, “an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data,” students in the Los Angeles area may find examples from, say, design for earthquake mitigation to be more interesting, while students in southern Michigan may respond more strongly to examples from the auto industry. Thus, even if courses deployed across multiple campuses share common high level goals, it is desirable for instructors to customize materials to address local, community-based issues and needs. Further, the instructors themselves can better connect with their students if they have the opportunity to draw from examples relevant to the own experience.

Brockman, J., & Brown, L., & McDonald, M. (2009, June), Introengineering.Org: A Structured Wiki Community For Instructors Of First Year Engineering Courses Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas.

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