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Teaching Design, Synthesis, And Communication To First Year Engineering Students At The University Of Toronto

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

DEED Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1171.1 - 9.1171.8



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Paper Authors

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Will Cluett

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Peter Weiss

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Kim Woodhouse

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David Bagley

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Susan McCahan

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


Teaching Design, Synthesis and Communication to First Year Engineering Students at the University of Toronto Susan McCahan, David Bagley, Peter Eliot Weiss, Kimberly Woodhouse, and Will Cluett Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering University of Toronto


One of the central tenets of new engineering curricula is an introductory course that provides students with a framework for engineering practice. This enables them to begin learning aspects of systems engineering and design, along with communications, teamwork and other professional skills, thereby gaining some sense of the excitement of the engineering profession. The Engineering Faculty at the University of Toronto has developed such an introductory course for its first year students that draws resources from across its various disciplines. It uses existing strengths in design, preventive engineering and social impact of technology, human factors, and language across the curriculum. The course development team started by defining the student needs that were unmet by the previous first year program and then constructed a list of goals for the new course in terms of expected student accomplishments. This list was reformulated into a set of learning objectives, which were then clustered to form a cohesive course outline. The new course, entitled Engineering Strategies and Practice (ESP), is a two-course sequence (26 weeks total) that was offered on a pilot basis for 100 students in the 2003-04 academic year.

There are many different elements that have been developed for design courses.1 The two- course sequence that was piloted this past year combines a number of these elements and has some special attributes. There is a major design project carried out for a real client. The team of instructors is a mix of engineering professors, communication instructors, and industry professionals. In addition, considerable class time is allocated to understanding how human, social, and environmental issues are brought into the design process. This is done, in part, through a seminar style approach. Overall, the resulting course is a departure from a typical design course.

Course Outline

The course plan can be roughly broken down into four parts. The major material introduced in each part is as follows: Part 1. Introduction to design, team skills, professional writing, and reverse engineering Part 2. Human, social, and environmental issues in the design process; Introduction to oral communication, and critical reading Part 3. Project management and project planning Part 4. Major design project

“Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2004, American Society for Engineering Education”

Cluett, W., & Weiss, P., & Woodhouse, K., & Bagley, D., & McCahan, S. (2004, June), Teaching Design, Synthesis, And Communication To First Year Engineering Students At The University Of Toronto Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13243

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