Asee peer logo

Pivot to Remote Teaching of an Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Project-Based Program: Spring–Fall 2020

Download Paper |

Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Cooperative and Experiential Education Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Cooperative and Experiential Education

Page Count

20

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37582

Download Count

42

Request a correction

Paper Authors

biography

Amitava 'Babi' Mitra Massachusetts Institute of Technology

visit author page

Amitava 'Babi' Mitra
linkedin.com/in/babimitra|+1-617-324-8131 | babi@mit.edu

Dr. Amitava ‘Babi’ Mitra is the founding Executive Director of the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) program at MIT. His expertise and interest are in setting up and leading innovative ‘start-up’ educational initiatives; he has over twenty-five years’ experience in institution building, higher education, corporate e-learning, and distance education. He was the founding Dean of Engineering, BML Munjal University, Gurgaon, India where he launched “Joy of Engineering”, a first-year project-based course designed to get students engaged with engineering, the Senior Vice-President, Knowledge Solutions Business Unit, NIIT, Inc., Atlanta. , and founding Chief, Distance Learning Programs Unit, BITS, Pilani, India. Dr. Mitra is a Guest Editor, ASEE’s journal, Advances in Engineering Education, and the keynote speaker/panelist at engineering education conferences in Lisbon, Portugal; Aalborg University, Denmark; Bengaluru, India; ITA, Brazil and Higher Colleges of Technology, United Arab Emirates. He volunteers as a board member, Arbor Creek Montessori Academy, Dallas, Texas, and was a member, National Advisory Board, SPIC MACAY (Society for the Promotion of Indian Classical Music and Culture Amongst Youth), India; founding member, Sakai Project Board, USA, and; founding member, Council of Governors, Pan-Himalayan Grassroots Development Foundation, an NGO based in Kumaon, India. Dr. Mitra earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from BITS, Pilani, India. He was ranked All-India 36th as a National Science Talent Scholar and graduated from St. Columba’s School, New Delhi, India. He loves food, music, the intersects across people and technology, growing up with his children, and playing squash.

visit author page

biography

Timothy Kassis Massachusetts Institute of Technology

visit author page

Dr. Timothy Kassis completed his postdoctoral training under Profs. Linda Griffith (BE) and David Trumper (MechE) at MIT. Prior to that, Dr. Kassis obtained a Ph.D. in Bioengineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA, and a B.Eng. in Electronic and Communications Engineering from the University of Nottingham, UK. Dr. Kassis has lived for extended amounts of time in the Philippines, Canada, UK, Lebanon, Syria, and since 2008, the United States. Dr. Kassis has been a lead instructor at MIT since 2017.

Dr. Kassis is currently the lead instructor for the School of Engineering's New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) Living Machines (LM) thread and is also the instructor for 20.051, 20.052 and 20.053 which are the three classes entitled 'Living Machines' required by all students participating in the LM thread.

Dr. Kassis' research interests lie at the convergence of engineering, biology, and computation. He is particularly interested in creating engineering tools to answer difficult biological questions. Dr. Kassis has worked on a variety of interdisciplinary research projects from elucidating the role of lymphatics in lipid transport to designing organ-on-chip microfluidic models to developing deep convolutional networks for biomedical image processing.

visit author page

author page

Yuan Lai Massachusetts Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-0664-5048

biography

Justin A. Lavallee Massachusetts Institute of Technology

visit author page

Justin Lavallee graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Design in 2010 with a Master in Architecture. After working as a researcher studying novel applications for industrial robots in custom manufacturing processes, he joined the MIT Department of Architecture in 2011 as an instructor and eventually director of the MIT Architecture Shops. He joined the MIT New Engineering Education Transformation as a lead technical instructor in 2019. Throughout his time at MIT he has focused on developing and teaching courses at the intersection of design, technology, and making, while also participating in a number of research projects focusing on new fabrication techniques.

visit author page

biography

Gregory L. Long PhD Massachusetts Institute of Technology

visit author page

Gregory L. Long, PhD is currently the Lead Technical Instructor for NEET's Autonomous Machines thread at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has a broad range of engineering design, prototype fabrication, and manufacturing experience, and he has taught mechanical engineering design, robotics, control of mechanical systems, and a variety of mathematical topics for over 20 years before joining the faculty at MIT. He has published scholarly articles on robot mechanics and control, and he has a textbook titled “Fundamentals of Robot Mechanics''.

Greg received his bachelors of science degree in chemical engineering from Stanford University, his masters of science and doctorate degrees in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics from the University of Pennsylvania, and his masters of liberal arts degree in mathematics for teaching from Harvard University. ​

Address: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, 35-316, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02139
Phone: 617-253-5575 Email: longg@mit.edu

visit author page

author page

Alice Nasto Massachusetts Institute of Technology

author page

M. Mehdi Salek Massachusetts Institute of Technology

biography

Rea Lavi Massachusetts Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0788-7236

visit author page

Rea Lavi is Lecturer and a Curriculum Designer with the New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) program in the School of Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. He leads the incorporation of 21st century skills into the NEET program curriculum and teaches thinking skills to undergraduate students. Rea received his Ph.D. degree from the Faculty of Education in Science and Technology at the Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. His research interests in STEM education involve the fostering and assessment of thinking skills involved in complex problem-solving, with special focus on systems thinking, creative thinking, and metacognition. His doctoral research systems thinking assessment received several awards, including the Zeff Fellowship for Excelling First-year Ph.D. Students and the Miriam and Aaron Gutwirth Fellowship for Excelling Ph.D. Students. Rea is also the inventor of the SNAP Method® for structured creative problem-solving (US and UK trademarks).

visit author page

author page

Rebecca Shepardson Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Download Paper |

Abstract

The New Engineering Education Transformation (NEET) program is an elective three-year undergraduate interdisciplinary program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The program pivoted from in-person on-campus teaching to remote teaching during Spring 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. NEET has five cross-departmental tracks, or threads, across science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. It has completed its third year of operation and graduated its founding cohort in Spring 2020 and has grown to become the fifth-largest undergraduate academic cohort in the university. In January 2020, following feedback collected from students and from other stakeholders, the program began a systematic process of reviewing its academic requirements. The overall goal of this revision was two-fold: reduce the academic burden on students and increase their academic flexibility. The revised requirements were published toward the end of the Spring 2020 semester, at about the same time as the universitywide pivot. This was a fortuitous coincidence as it allowed the students and the program to deal more flexibly with the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. This paper describes the key takeaways from that pivot across all five threads, how over summer we used that learning to redesign courses to be offered in Fall 2020, implementation of those redesigned courses in fall, and design and logistics implications for Spring 2021. It covers two distinct academic periods: Spring 2020, with teaching pivoting from on-campus to remote suddenly and with no more than two weeks for preparation; and Fall 2020, with planned remote teaching taking place. As the program is projectbased, and contains hands-on elements, the pivot to remote teaching was particularly challenging, requiring instructors to adapt and innovate. Enrollment in the NEET program did not drop and we heard anecdotally from students that they thought the pivot in Spring 2020 went as well as possible given the circumstances. Data was collected from instructors and from students by using surveys containing open (free text) and closed items (Likert scale). Another source of data were the syllabi of the various courses taught in the program, which changed with the pivot to remote teaching. The authors detail what had taken place during each of the two semesters, describing the various shifts in syllabi and instruction, student feedback, outline successes and setbacks, and make suggestions for higher education programs facing similar challenges. The authors hope that their experience and the insights gained from it will serve their fellow educators in these challenging times.

Mitra, A. B., & Kassis, T., & Lai, Y., & Lavallee, J. A., & Long, G. L., & Nasto, A., & Salek, M. M., & Lavi, R., & Shepardson, R. (2021, July), Pivot to Remote Teaching of an Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Project-Based Program: Spring–Fall 2020 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37582

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015