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Student Outcome Assessments Methodology In Mechanical Engineering

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Meeting ABET Requirements

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.1314.1 - 12.1314.13

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Paper Authors


Anne Spence University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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ANNE M. SPENCE is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC and holds a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. During her thirteen years as an engineering educator, she has developed curricula, directed programs to increase the recruitment and retention of women in engineering, and developed hands on engineering programs designed to foster an interest in engineering among elementary, middle and high school students. She manages a number of NSF grants related to engineering education.

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Liang Zhu University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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LIANG ZHU is an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC and holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. Her research focuses on the effects of vascular geometry and blood perfusion on local heat transfer in microcirculation and the simulation of temperature fields in tissue during hyperthermia and hypothermia treatment for various diseases. Dr. Zhu was actively involved in the ABET data collection and analysis process.

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

Student Outcomes Assessment Methodology in Mechanical Engineering Introduction

For many years, mechanical engineering departments around the country have prepared for visits by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Typically, the preparation for these visits and accompanying reports could be generated quickly and often by a single individual. The data that was collected was often referred to as “bean counting” as the number of credits in mathematics, physics, design, thermodynamics, etc. were simply counted and entered on a form. The evolution of the ABET 2000 Criteria has forced mechanical engineering departments to reconsider the age-old methods of evaluating the education that is provided to their students.

According to Lohmann1, one of the most important pieces of the process is to gather large amounts of data from a variety of sources. This provides a means to cross-check the outcomes. The United States Military Academy uses a Course Assessment Plan to collect and analyze data.2 This system relies on surveys and end of course grades to provide qualitative and quantitative assessments. Felder3 suggests that there are many ways to assess student learning and, ultimately, program outcomes, but both qualitative and quantitative methods should be employed. With all of these recommendations in mind, the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC, developed a process to assess program outcomes that reinvigorated the course delivery and assessment process.


As the reality of ABET 2000 criteria began to set in, the department began discussions centered around the mechanical engineering program outcomes – what students are expected to know and be able to do by the time of graduation. Old criteria simply required students to complete courses in specific areas, new criteria requires departments to identify specific outcomes related to the program. It was critical at this step to identify outcomes that could be both measurable and assessable. After much discussion, faculty chose to approve the outcomes identified by ABET as a-k and mechanical engineering outcomes l-o.

ABET Outcomes Our Mechanical Engineering graduates will have: (a) An ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering (b) An ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data (c) An ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs (d) An ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams (e) An ability to identify, formulate and solve engineering problems (f) An understanding of professional and ethical responsibility (g) An ability to communicate effectively

Spence, A., & Zhu, L. (2007, June), Student Outcome Assessments Methodology In Mechanical Engineering Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii.

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