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The Impact Of Benchmarking Peer Institutions In Curricular Reform

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.1014.1 - 6.1014.14



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Paper Authors

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Eric Warmbier

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James S. Fairweather

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P. David Fisher

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

Session 2793


P. David Fisher, James S. Fairweather, and Eric A. Warmbier Michigan State University


Benchmarking peer institutions should be viewed as an essential element in curricular reform, i.e., continuous quality improvement (CQI) in both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum. The process of benchmarking can also be viewed as an opportunity to establish a network of individuals who share common interests and potentially a common vision regarding educational reform. This paper describes the outcomes of a survey of 36 institutions regarding the content of their electrical engineering service courses. The primary objective of this survey was to assess how national and regional universities used these courses to achieve their respective undergraduate engineering educational program objectives. We describe how we used these data to develop local reform strategies for service courses. We also describe the implications of these results for identifying the opportunities for reform and the challenges to institutionalizing curricular changes.

I. Introduction

Engineering Service Courses

An engineering service course may be defined as a required or elective course taken by engineering students outside their principal field of study—e.g., an environmental engineering or computer engineering course taken by students majoring in mechanical engineering. While preparing for an EC2000 accreditation site visit to Michigan State University (MSU), several members of the College of Engineering faculty came to recognize that engineering service courses were often overlooked—or even discounted—in their potential educational value 1, 2. Reviews of the undergraduate engineering programs revealed that by and large MSU’s engineering faculty viewed engineering service courses primarily as a longstanding engineering curricular mandate from ABET 3. This Engineering Topics curricular-content requirement is concisely stated as follows in a recent addition of ABET’s Criteria for Accrediting Programs in Engineering in the United States:

“In order to promote breadth, the curriculum must include at least one engineering course outside the major disciplinary area.”

Several faculty members began to look beyond this cryptic requirement to add breadth to engineering programs and asked the following important question:

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Warmbier, E., & Fairweather, J. S., & Fisher, P. D. (2001, June), The Impact Of Benchmarking Peer Institutions In Curricular Reform Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9343

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