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The DesignSpine: Evolution of an Authentic Project-Based Integration of Design in an Engineering Curriculum

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

DEED Technical Session 9 - Design Across the Curriculum

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Paper Authors


Kenneth Reid University of Indianapolis Orcid 16x16

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Kenneth Reid is the Associate Dean and Director of Engineering at the R. B. Annis School of Engineering at the University of Indianapolis. He and his coauthors were awarded the Wickenden award (Journal of Engineering Education, 2014) and Best Paper award, Educational Research and Methods Division (ASEE, 2014). He was awarded an IEEE-USA Professional Achievement Award (2013) for designing the B.S. degree in Engineering Education. He is a co-PI on the “Engineering for Us All” (e4usa) project to develop a high school engineering course “for all”. He is active in engineering within K-12, (Technology Student Association Board of Directors) and has written multiple texts in Engineering, Mathematics and Digital Electronics. He earned a PhD in Engineering Education from Purdue University, is a Senior Member of IEEE, on the Board of Governors of the IEEE Education Society, and a Member of Tau Beta Pi.

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George Ricco University of Indianapolis

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George D. Ricco received the B.S.E. degree in engineering physics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA, in 2002, the M.S. degree in physics and the M.S. degree in earth sciences from the University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA, in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and the Ph.D. degree in engineering education from Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA, in 2013. He is the Director of First-Year Engineering and an Assistant Professor of Engineering with the University of Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN, USA. Previously, he co-founded the first-year engineering program with the University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA, and was the entrepreneurial coordinator in the School of Engineering at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, USA.

His work in MIDFIELD revolves around advanced statistical analysis and reexamining long-held tropes in educational statistics, focusing primarily on student major switching and introductory course inequities across colleges. He spends significant time outside of his studies working on election security issues and advocating for the rights of historically disenfranchised peoples.
Dr. Ricco is a member of ASEE, the Alpha Chi Sigma professional chemistry fraternity, and the National Lawyers Guild.

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David Olawale University of Indianapolis

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Md Rashedul Sarker University of Indianapolis

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A common theme among business leaders is that young engineers will require a proclivity to adapt to novel technologies and prepare for jobs or even entire industries that do not yet exist. The introduction of modern design spine curricula is one variation of the project-based learning environment, with the potential to develop and equip students to effectively design viable solutions to real life problems facing our world. This paper summarizes a novel design spine program at the R. B. Annis School of Engineering at the University of Indianapolis, now in its fifth year, that contains a number of additions of interest to the greater engineering education community. The DesignSpine program implements three years of industrial client projects. Most engineering programs include one year of open-ended student projects. In addition, the DesignSpine program has an entire year devoted to project-based entrepreneurial development with external business mentors. The program’s first year contains training in Agile and Design for Six Sigma methodologies. Finally, the program involves participation from all faculty and technical staff in the engineering school - an all hands on deck approach. We summarize the curricular changes and decisions made over the past five years, as well as present novel data gleaned from student and faculty reflections. A major change in the curriculum was a change from a model with 10 weeks of typical coursework and only 5 weeks of DesignSpine to a more integrated 15 full weeks, as both student teams and clients needed more time to effectively work on the design project. Also, as the program grew, there was the need to change the leadership and structure of the committee responsible for running the DesignSpine. The change highlights the fact that leadership must be willing to assess and implement changes as deemed necessary as a program grows, the skillset requirements change, and as competent people join the team. It must never be business as usual, nor change for the sake of change, but an objective assessment of needs and capabilities needed for growth and success. The paper will be of interest to programs which aim to truly integrate design into an engineering curriculum.

Reid, K., & Ricco, G., & Olawale, D., & Sarker, M. R. (2022, August), The DesignSpine: Evolution of an Authentic Project-Based Integration of Design in an Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41553

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