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The Design Spine: Revision Of The Engineering Curriculum To Include A Design Experience Each Semester

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1999 Annual Conference


Charlotte, North Carolina

Publication Date

June 20, 1999

Start Date

June 20, 1999

End Date

June 23, 1999



Page Count


Page Numbers

4.513.1 - 4.513.7



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Paper Authors

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Bernard Gallois

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Keith Sheppard

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

Session 3225

The Design Spine: Revision of the Engineering Curriculum to Include a Design Experience each Semester

Keith Sheppard and Bernard Gallois Charles V. Schaefer, Jr. School of Engineering Stevens Institute of Technology Hoboken, New Jersey, 07030

The Stevens engineering curriculum was recently revised to extend the design experience to every semester and in effect create a Design Spine. This metaphor additionally reflects the other major change to provide a much greater level of integration between engineering science and design courses to enhance learning. Open-ended projects together with experiments in the design courses are chosen to provide context for and reinforce the engineering science taught concurrently. The Design Spine will also provide the vehicle to develop key competencies in problem solving, effective communication, project management, ethics, economics of engineering, teaming and industrial ecology in an evolutionary manner throughout the sequence.

1. Introduction

It has been estimated that approximately 70% of the life-cycle costs of product realization, i.e. the conception, development and bringing to market of a product, are determined during the design phase1. There has been a growing recognition that engineering curricula in the U.S. have not been providing sufficient and appropriate emphasis on design to meet the needs of competitive business practice in an intensive global marketplace.

The First Phase of Design Enhancement at Stevens

In 1991 Stevens Institute took a significant step towards addressing the improvement of competencies associated with design by the introduction of a Design Thread that included three new core design laboratories. These courses were added in the second semesters of freshman, sophomore and junior years respectively to complement the traditional one-year capstone senior design project. The design thread also included an existing Engineering Graphics course in the first semester of the sophomore year. A two-course sequence (increased from one) in engineering management was also considered part of the design thread through its contribution to the economics of design.

Adjunct faculty who were either practicing or recently retired engineers taught the three core design courses. This mode has proved very effective and students appreciate the experience the instructors bring to the class; it helps link the design classes to the "real world". Some classes have successfully utilized senior undergraduates as peer instructors to assist the faculty member.

The Design Thread was a relatively early response to what has become a national trend to strengthen design education as evidenced, for example, by the extensive design-related curricula

Gallois, B., & Sheppard, K. (1999, June), The Design Spine: Revision Of The Engineering Curriculum To Include A Design Experience Each Semester Paper presented at 1999 Annual Conference, Charlotte, North Carolina. 10.18260/1-2--7557

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