June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
13.818.1 - 13.818.11
It Takes The Whole University To Instruct The Whole Engineer: Narratives Of Collaboration
Collaborations between engineering faculty and skilled experts outside of engineering proper build strong undergraduate engineering curricula that clearly emphasize professional skills and ABET program outcomes (Criteria 3 d, f, g, h, i,). With shared goals of providing undergraduates with a rich educational experience in which research, communication and critical thinking are central to achievement and to the development of integrity in engineering, such collaborations produce an instructional program that readies students for the requirements of continuous learning and complex analysis essential to a successful, principled engineering career.
This paper will describe the contributions to undergraduate engineering education that non- engineering faculty and academic departments have brought to the Pitt Experience. We will emphasize the process of designing curriculum with multiple learning outcomes that address a broad range of professional and academic goals, and we will provide examples of assignments and tools, developed by instructors and librarians from across curricula, that support research, communication, and critical thinking towards educating the “whole engineer.”
"When students leave the university unable to find words to render their experience, they are radically impoverished.”1
Introduction: The Collaborative Whole
Current ABET accreditation requirements emphasize the importance of “soft” skills in planning and achieving excellence in engineering education. What engineers need to experience and know, in addition to “hard” knowledge, is further explained by Shuman and Besterfield-Sacre as “process-oriented skills and awareness-oriented skills.”2 Process-oriented skills include “communication, teamwork, and the ability to recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas.”3 These skills are powerful when combined with awareness skills involving “understanding the impact of global and social factors, knowledge of contemporary issues, and the ability to do lifelong learning.”4 But what are the most effective ways of incorporating process and awareness- oriented practices into engineering curricula already crowded with necessary science, math, and disciplinary courses? How can engineering schools, which must ensure that their students graduate with sound hard skills, also ensure they are graduating “whole engineers”—engineers who have encountered and practiced communication, teamwork, and the ability to recognize and resolve ethical dilemmas; who are cognizant of the potentially enormous social impact of engineering; and who have skills which facilitate lifelong learning in these very areas?
For engineering schools to educate “whole engineers,” they must embrace their own university’s whole range of resources. Schools of engineering are parts of larger educational institutions, and, as such, have the opportunity and obligation to make the best use of the resources a whole university has to offer. Here at the University of Pittsburgh, the Swanson School of Engineering faculty and administration have worked in tandem with librarians, with faculty from other departments (most notably English Composition), with the University’s Office of Measurement and Evaluation of Teaching (OMET) and the Center for Instructional Development and Distance
Thomes, K., & Newborg, B. B., & Joranson, K., & Budny, D., & Abramowitch, S., & Washburn, C., & Baker, C. (2008, June), It Takes The Whole University To Instruct The Whole Engineer: Narratives Of Collaboration Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3528
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