June 22, 2003
June 22, 2003
June 25, 2003
8.1063.1 - 8.1063.11
Teaching Engineering Design – One University’s Program
Patrick L. Walter, Ph. D. Engineering Department, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
abstract This paper describes the design process as taught at Texas Christian University (TCU). The intent of the design course is to develop student engineers capable of a seamless transition to industry. Success in industry is primarily based on three criteria: (1) schedule – did the project get completed on time, (2) cost – did the project get completed within budget, and (3) performance – did the delivered product(s) satisfy the customer? The design process at TCU is based on these criteria. A 3-semester, team-oriented, industry-funded, electrical/mechanical, interdisciplinary design sequence, beginning in the second semester of the TCU student engineer’s junior year, is described.
introduction Early in their engineering educational process, students are typically forced to select a specific discipline (mechanical, electrical, civil, etc.). They then dutifully follow a program of studies that embraces the requisite technical courses (thermodynamics, solid mechanics, circuits, etc.) to support this discipline. While laboratory courses may provide an opportunity to stimulate group interaction, success in the majority of their engineering courses is typically assessed based upon individual performance, e.g., examination grades. What’s wrong with this picture? This individual assessment process is largely disconnected from the industrial world where they will win or lose in teams. 1,2,3 Engineers in industry who rise through the managerial ranks are almost always initially identified as a byproduct of being associated with successful engineering teams early in their careers. Assessment of the effectiveness of an industrial team is principally based on three criteria: (1) schedule – did they get the project completed on time, (2) cost – did they get the project completed within budget, and (3) performance – did the delivered product(s) satisfy the customer? Thus, to create engineers capable of rising through the ranks of their peers, engineering programs must generate individuals who can contribute to, and thrive in, an industrial teaming environment.
Before I left industry for academia, it was my observation that during the latter 1980s and the early 1990s the young engineers being produced in universities were well versed in computer skills, but had little insight into the design process. Fortunately, large companies such as Boeing felt the same way and encouraged ABET (the engineering accreditation board) to require more design content in university engineering programs.1,2 The engineering program at Texas Christian University (TCU) in which I teach is relatively new; its first seniors graduated in 1996. This program awards a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering with mechanical and electrical emphasis options. The timing of the initiation of this program, coupled with my own convictions, afforded an opportunity to change the traditional engineering education paradigm by creating a more industrially focused model. 8 This focus is achieved through a continuous, 3- semester, team-oriented, industry-funded, electrical/mechanical, interdisciplinary design
Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2003, American Society for Engineering Education
Walter, P. (2003, June), Teaching Engineering Design One University's Program Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. https://peer.asee.org/11607
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