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Supporting Convergence Development through Structural Changes to an ECE Program

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Conference

2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/41914

Download Count

108

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Paper Authors

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Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University before joining Oklahoma State University working on terahertz frequencies and engineering education. While at Oklahoma State he developed courses in photonics and engineering design. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, he became chair of the ECE Department at Bucknell University. He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophy of engineering education.

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Sarah Appelhans University at Albany-SUNY

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Sarah Appelhans is a postdoctoral research assistant at Bucknell University. She earned her PhD in Cultural Anthropology at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her dissertation research, "Flexible Lives on Engineering's Bleeding Edge: Gender, Migration and Belonging in Semiconductor Manufacturing", investigates the intersections of gender, race/ethnicity, and immigration status among semiconductor engineers. She is currently the resident social scientist in the Electrical Engineering Department at Bucknell, exploring how to teach convergent (deeply interdisciplinary) problems to undergraduate engineers. Past research projects include studies of governance in engineering education and the influence of educational technology on engineering education.

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Rebecca Thomas Bucknell University

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Rebecca Thomas is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She holds a B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University.

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Stewart Thomas Bucknell University

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Stewart Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. He received the B.S. and M.Eng. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisville in Louisville, KY. and the Ph.D. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. He is a member of ASEE and IEEE.

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Robert Nickel

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Robert M. Nickel received a Dipl.-Ing. degree in electrical engineering from the RWTH Aachen, Germany, in 1994, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 2001. During the 2001/2002 academic year he was an adjunct faculty in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the University of Michigan. From 2002 until 2007 he was a faculty member at the Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania. Since the fall of 2007 he is a faculty member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at Bucknell University, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. During the 2010/2011 academic year he was a Marie Curie Incoming International Fellow at the Institute of Communication Acoustics, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany. Prof. Nickel is author/co-author of over 40 peer-reviewed scientific articles, mainly in the areas of speech signal processing, natural language processing, and machine learning.

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Stu Thompson Bucknell University

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Stu is an associate professor and chair of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Bucknell University, in Lewisburg, PA. While his teaching responsibilities typically include digital design, computer-related electives, and senior design, his focus

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Abstract

This NSF Grantees poster discusses an early phase Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) project which is designed to address preparing engineering students to address large scale societal problems, the solutions of which need to integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives. These types of problems are often termed “convergent problems”. The idea of convergence captures how different domains of expertise contribute to solving a problem, but also the value of the network of connections between areas of knowledge that is built in undertaking such activities. While most existing efforts at convergence focus at the graduate and post-graduate levels, this project supports student development of capabilities to address convergent problems in an undergraduate disciplinary-based degree program in electrical and computer engineering. This poster discusses some of the challenges faced in implementing such learning including how to decouple engineering topics from societal concerns in ways that are relevant to undergraduate students yet retain aspects of convergence, negotiations between faculty on ways to balance discipline-specific skills with the breadth required for systemic understanding, and challenges in integrating relevant projects into courses with different faculty and instructional learning goals.

One of the features of the project is that it builds on ideas from Communities of Transformation by basing activities on a coherent philosophical model that guides theories of change. The project has adopted Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom or capabilities framework as the organizing philosophy. In this model the freedom for individuals to develop capabilities they value is viewed as both the means and end of development. The overarching goal of the project is then for students to build personalized frameworks based on their value systems which allow them to later address complex, convergent problems. Framework development by individual students is supported in the project through several activities: modifying grading practices to provide detailed feedback on skills that support convergence, eliciting self-narratives from students about their pathways through courses and projects with the goal of developing reflection, and carefully integrating educational software solutions that can reduce some aspects of faculty workload which is hypothesized to enable faculty to focus efforts on integrating convergent projects throughout the curriculum.

The poster will present initial results on the interventions to the program including grading, software integration, projects, and narratives. The work presented will also cover an ethnographic study of faculty practices which serves as an early-stage baseline to calibrate longer-term changes.

Cheville, A., & Appelhans, S., & Thomas, R., & Thomas, S., & Nickel, R., & Thompson, S. (2022, August), Supporting Convergence Development through Structural Changes to an ECE Program Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41914

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