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Outcomes Assessment Of An International Engineering Experience

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.772.1 - 6.772.8

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David DiBiasio

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

Session 2560

Outcomes Assessment of an International Engineering Experience David DiBiasio Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Study abroad experiences have long been a large part of an undergraduate liberal arts education. However, only recently have engineering students begun to take advantage of the great benefits available from an international experience. This change is partly driven by the increasingly global nature of engineering and by requirement under ABET’s EC 2000 accreditation policies. A result of this is an emergence of different models of engineering study abroad such as industrial internships, semester at sea programs, service-oriented models, and traditional exchange programs. A diversity of models means a variety of student experiences and hence different student outcomes. Measuring student outcomes and understanding the learning experience is critical for continuous improvement and satisfying accreditation agencies. In this paper we describe our international program and its relation to ABET-related student outcomes such as multidisciplinary teamwork, understanding engineering in a global society, contemporary issues, life-long learning, and written communication skills. The paper will focus on our assessment process.


All students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute must complete a multidisciplinary project that examines technology-society interactions. The project is called an Interactive Qualifying Project (IQP). Students research, address and report on a problem examining how science or technology interacts with cultures, societal structures, and values. Project objectives include enabling students to understand, as citizens and as professionals, how their careers will affect the larger society of which they are a part. Projects are done in small, multidisciplinary teams, they are broad and integrative, are not limited to major field, and are equivalent in credit to three courses.

Since the inception of this academic exercise, we have tried to find ways to get students off- campus to do these projects. The first such resident project center was set up in Washington, DC 25 years ago and since then we have expanded the program throughout the world. Now, nearly 2/3 of our students travel internationally to conduct these projects. We send more engineering students abroad than any other US university, and we are second in the nation for doctoral universities for the percent of our total student body that studies abroad.1 The details of our program structure and operation are presented elsewhere.2,3 Space constraints prevent detailed description of the program and typical student projects. However, shown below is one example of a project completed at our Bangkok center. WPI has developed an administrative division, the Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Division (IGSD) to run this large program, and not only maintain but improve the quality of the students’ IQP experience. In this paper, we present our assessment program, and focus on our international projects.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

DiBiasio, D. (2001, June), Outcomes Assessment Of An International Engineering Experience Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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