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Preparing Engineering Students for Their Profession - A Novel Curricular Approach

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

CEED Technical Session I: WIP: Experiential Learning Potpourri

Tagged Division

Cooperative and Experiential Education

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Paper Authors


Joel Howell University of South Florida

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Joel Howell is a Professor of Practice in the University of South Florida's Electrical Engineering Department. His focus is to help every student within the department develop skills and competencies through experiential learning activities, including community service, involvement in student organizations, internships/co-ops, undergraduate research, and study abroad programs. Prior to joining USF, Joel served as an Advanced Programs Engineer and Business Development Manager for Harris Corporation. Joel has also served as the Vice Chair of the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) National Capital Section (NCS) and the Workforce Committee Chair for the Aerospace Industries Association Space Council.

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Chris S. Ferekides University of South Florida

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Wilfrido A. Moreno University of South Florida


Tom Weller Oregon State University

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Thomas M. Weller (S’92–M’95–SM’98-F’18) received the Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA. From 1995-2018, he was a faculty member in the Electrical Engineering Department and a member of the Center for Wireless and Microwave Information Systems at the University of South Florida. He joined Oregon State University in 2018, where he is a professor and head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. His research interests include RF/microwave applications of additive manufacturing, development and application of microwave materials, and integrated circuit and antenna design. He holds over 35 U.S. patents and has authored over 300 professional publications.

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Arash Takshi University of South Florida

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Bio: Arash Takshi graduated in Electronics from Amir Kabir University of Technology in Iran in 1993. Three years later he received his M.Sc. in Analog Electronics from Sharif University of Technology in Tehran. He worked in industry as an electronic design engineer for seven years before he started his PhD at University of British Columbia, UBC, (Canada). In 2007 he received his Ph.D. in the field of Organic Electronics. After that Dr. Takshi worked on protein-based solar cell devices as a Research Associate at UBC for two years. From December 2009 to August 2010 he worked with a research team at University of Maryland on developing energy harvesting systems for wireless sensors. In 2010 Dr. Takshi joined the Electrical Engineering department at USF. As an Associate Professor his research group is active on developing thin-film and electrochemical devices for mainly energy harvesting and storage applications. Dr. Takshi has more than 50 scientific publications and six patents. In addition to his research, he has devised a few teaching activities, including Lab-in-Class and Lab-in-a-Bag. He has received several teaching awards for his effort in developing the new activities.

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This Work-In-Progress (WIP) paper describes a core engineering course series that has been developed by the University of South Florida (USF) Electrical Engineering (EE) Department that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to prepare engineering students for their professional careers and improve student retention. The required Professional Formation of Engineers (PFE) course is offered as a series of three 1-credit courses, which span the Sophomore/Junior years, and provide a bridge between a Foundations of Engineering course, which is required for all USF Engineering Freshman students and two required senior-level EE Capstone Design courses. The purpose of this paper is to share content information and lessons learnt on the PFE course series model, and how the course helps students develop critical competencies identified by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), engage with engineering industry representatives, researchers, and faculty, and understand engineering ethics from a practical/professional perspective.

The theory of action-state orientation is utilized. Research demonstrates that action-oriented college students attain higher grade point averages and engage in more extracurricular activities than state-oriented students. In the PFE course series, students create and maintain a personalized undergraduate career roadmap using experiential learning activities. Students set goals, and track and assess their individual progress to achieving those goals. They use Risk Management processes to resolve ethical case studies and demonstrate real-time critical thinking and problem- solving skills during a mock Senate Ethics Hearing. Students also choose technical areas to research, and work in groups to develop research proposals, patent applications, and business plans. As a result, students learn to apply ethical perspectives and consider the full implications of unethical practices, develop valuable professional competencies, communicate with a diverse set of stakeholders and audiences, and identify a technical area of interest and work as a group to create and present a technology development proposal and business plan that meets a community need.

The assignments and projects in the PFE course series directly address ABET Outcomes 4 and 5. The professional development and experiential learning activities required by the course series provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate proficiency in other ABET Outcomes as well.

Howell, J., & Ferekides, C. S., & Moreno, W. A., & Weller, T., & Takshi, A. (2019, June), Preparing Engineering Students for Their Profession - A Novel Curricular Approach Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33189

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