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New Paradigm For Foundational Engineering Education

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

State of the Art in 1st-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.962.1 - 10.962.10



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Paper Authors

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Tom Walker

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Hayden Griffin

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Tamara Knott

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Richard Goff

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Vinod Lohani

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Jenny Lo

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

New Paradigm for Foundational Engineering Education Jenny L. Lo, Richard M. Goff, Vinod K. Lohani, Thomas D.L. Walker, Tamara W. Knott, and O. Hayden Griffin, Jr. Department of Engineering Education Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


In fall 2004, implementation of a significant redesign of the first semester introductory engineering course (EngE1024) required for all first-year engineering students at Virginia Tech, has occurred in support of a shift in paradigm: 1) the enhanced research mission of the new Department of Engineering Education and 2) administrative restructuring that led to inclusion of Computer Science students in the College of Engineering. This redesign resulted in changes to course curriculum and coordination and hiring/management of faculty.

The increased focus on educational research has had multiple effects on EngE1024, including the incorporation of outcomes of ongoing research projects, such as the incorporation of electronic portfolios for assessment and reflection purposes originated from an NSF Bridges to Engineering Education grant and use of a ‘spiral curriculum’ approach from an NSF Department-level Reform grant.

The change in paradigm resulted in significant personnel changes. For the first time, the department hired graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants to aid in course development and implementation. Also, to provide faculty time to develop research programs, an unprecedented number of adjunct faculty were hired to reduce the teaching load of the regular faculty. The sheer number of faculty and teaching assistants created new management challenges.

This paper documents a major shift in one of the largest freshmen engineering programs in the United States and the noteworthy affects this is having on its first semester engineering course.


In 1968, the Virginia Tech College of Engineering created the Division of Engineering Fundamentals, which was assigned to teach, mentor, and advise freshman engineering students. At Virginia Tech, all freshman engineering students enter as General Engineering (GE) students and are transferred to a degree-granting department when they have successfully completed a required set of courses.

Over the past seven years, the first-year courses have evolved from somewhat standard problem solving, graphics, and programming courses to a format that emphasizes early design and realization, collaborative learning, and highly interactive classroom environments1,2,3,4. Virginia

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition Copyright @ 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Walker, T., & Griffin, H., & Knott, T., & Goff, R., & Lohani, V., & Lo, J. (2005, June), New Paradigm For Foundational Engineering Education Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14308

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