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On the Role of Adjuncts in Engineering Education: Developing Practical Courses and Solving Real-World Problems

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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

College Industry Partnerships Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1199.1 - 26.1199.14



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Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for over 37 years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penna (66-69), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (69-87), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (87-00). Professor Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work & experience include: characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design & materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include: contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

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On the Role of Adjuncts in Engineering Education: Developing Practical Courses and Solving Real World Problems ABSTRACTThis paper examines the status quo of adjunct faculty in engineering institutions andargues that adjuncts could enrich an academic engineering program by bringing in theirpractical experience and by introducing relevant applications and design venues to theclassroom. Adjunct faculty members do also help in setting up linkages with theindustrial sector, which often leads to: employment opportunities for graduates, co-opactivities, and potential development of collaborative research programs. Nevertheless,the present status of most adjunct faculty is tenuous, subject to shifting enrollment, andconsidered as a temporary arrangement, or until a “full-time” faculty is appointed.Unfortunately adjuncts, often with proven records of excellent teaching, are marginalizedby the academic systems in place today; and their efforts and contributions to theacademic process are undervalued. If fair treatment and proper recognition are accordedto adjuncts; then, their morale, loyalty to the institution, and their teaching effectivenesswould improve markedly.Next, the paper reports on a case of an adjunct with practical experience who “teamed-up” with “full-time” faculty member, in an attempt to bring the “practice” to 4th yearstudents in a civil engineering class. The success achieved in meeting stated objectives ofdesign-oriented course, i.e., including students’ exposure to the “practice”, was attributed,in large measure, to proper planning and coordination that preceded course delivery. Plus,the willingness, experience and abilities of the adjunct in addressing the practice in thelocale. The paper sheds light on this case, and focuses on the contributions of the adjunctin course planning, delivery of “practice-related” material, organizing instructionalactivities, as well as adjunct’s ability and effort in engaging students, in and outside theclassroom. The positive outcome of this experience has lead other faculty members tofollow the same path, i.e., by searching for practitioners-as adjunct faculty- to assist inbringing the practice into the classroom, in partnership with “full-time” faculty.In many areas of engineering education, there appears to be an increased reliance onadjunct faculty with industrial experience. Clearly, such an arrangement has manybenefits to the engineering education process. The continued increase in emphasis by theAccreditation Board of Engineering and Technology on engineering design and relatedcourses in undergraduate curriculum leads to an increased reliance on faculty withindustrial experience. Adjunct faculty can play a significant role in developing practicalcourses and in guiding students to solve real world design problems.

Akili, W. (2015, June), On the Role of Adjuncts in Engineering Education: Developing Practical Courses and Solving Real-World Problems Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24536

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