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Leading Large-Scale Change in an Engineering Program

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Innovation in Engineering Leadership Education

Tagged Division

Engineering Leadership Development Division

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1060.1 - 26.1060.21



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Paper Authors


Cheryl Allendoerfer University of Washington

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Dr. Allendoerfer is a Research Scientist in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington.

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Rebecca A. Bates Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Rebecca A. Bates received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington in 2004. She also received the M.T.S. degree from Harvard Divinity School in 1993. She is currently Professor and Chair of the Department of Integrated Engineering program at Minnesota State University, Mankato, home of the Iron Range and Twin Cities Engineering programs.

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Jennifer Karlin South Dakota School of Mines and Technology


Ronald R. Ulseth Iron Range Engineering

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Ron Ulseth directs and instructs in the Iron Range Engineering program in Virginia, Minnesota and he teaches in the Itasca Community College engineering program in Grand Rapids, MN. He was instrumental in growing the Itasca program from 10 students in 1992 to 160 students in 2010. In 2009, he worked with a national development team of engineering educators to develop the 100% PBL curriculum used in the Iron Range model. He has successfully acquired and managed over $10 million in educational grants including as PI on 7 grants from NSF. He has been in the classroom, teaching more than 20 credits per year to engineering students for more than 25 years. His specific areas of expertise are in active learning, faculty development, and learning community development. He has been awarded the 2012 Progress Minnesota award, 2012 Labovitz Entrepreneurialism award, and 2012 Innovator of the Year award from the Rural Community College Alliance all for his work in developing the Iron Range Engineering program. His degrees are in civil engineering (B.S., University of North Dakota), and mechanical engineering (M.S., University of Central Florida). He is licensed as a professional engineer in the state of Minnesota.

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Dan Ewert

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Leading Large-Scale Change in an Engineering ProgramWhile many efforts have been made to improve technical and professional skills in engineeringgraduates, there has been little comprehensive change in the pedagogy of most engineeringeducation institutions in the U.S. Many of these efforts involve changing only one or twoaspects of the curriculum, and therefore are less likely to make significant changes in the studentlearning outcomes. For better success, engineering curricular changes will need to address theentire education system. In order to see real, sustainable improvement in engineering educationpractice, both the behaviors of the participants and the systems within which these participantsact must have change. Changes in education practices are unlikely to develop and persistwithout concurrent and structural changes at the administrative level; thus we have focused thisstudy on understanding the activities of individuals during an administrative change. Further,this study highlights the importance of how change agents work with the various groups, or sub-cultures, within universities as well as the opportunity for leadership from the faculty anddepartment chair ranks.This study seeks to better understand the change management activities and opportunities thatoccurred as [name removed for blind review], a new program meeting the national call describedabove, was developed and implemented. [Program name removed] is a two-year, project-basedprogram that allows students with two-year college degrees to complete a bachelor’s degree inengineering. The program is a partnership between a community college and a state university,separated geographically by several hundred miles. The program takes place at the communitycollege, targeting students in that part of the state and responding to the needs of local industries.Because of the complex nature of the institutional partnership, as well as the project-based, team-focused emphasis, the program serves as an innovative model for engineering education.This study was guided by the following questions: 1) How did the program come about? 2)What helped or hindered the process? 3) What lessons learned from this process can inform andimprove future transformational efforts in engineering education? To address these questions,approximately 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with individuals who played a widerange of roles in the development and implementation process. All interviews were audiorecorded and transcribed, and analyzed qualitatively. An overview of the study will be presentedalong with preliminary findings, including recommendations and implications for broaderapplication of the resulting model for change.

Allendoerfer, C., & Bates, R. A., & Karlin, J., & Ulseth, R. R., & Ewert, D. (2015, June), Leading Large-Scale Change in an Engineering Program Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24397

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