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Transitioning to Engineering Without Losing Experiential Learning

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ET Curriculum & Programs

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jeffrey L. Newcomer Western Washington University

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Dr. Jeffrey L. Newcomer is a Professor of Manufacturing Engineering and Chair of the Engineering and Design Department at Western Washington University. He received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

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Nikki Larson Western Washington University

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After receiving my bachelor degree in Mechanical Engineering from Bradley University, I started working for Boeing. While at Boeing I worked to receive my master's degree in Mechanical Engineering with an emphasis in Materials and Manufacturing. After leaving Boeing I spent several years in equipment research and development at Starbucks Coffee Company.

From there I decided my heart lied in teaching and left Starbucks to teach Materials Science Technology at Edmonds Community College. I eventually moved to Western Washington University where I have been faculty in the Plastics and Composites Engineering Program (formerly Plastics Engineering Technology) for the past 13 years. My research interests are in composite manufacturing.

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Todd D. Morton Western Washington University

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Professor Todd Morton is Program Director of the Electrical Engineering program at Western Washington University (WWU). He has BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Washington. He is the author of the text Embedded Microcontrollers, which covers assembly and C programming in small real-time embedded systems, and has been teaching the upper level embedded systems and senior project courses in EE/EET at WWU for 30 years.

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Derek M. Yip-Hoi Western Washington University

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Dr. Yip-Hoi received his Ph.D. from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan in 1997. His dissertation research focused on developing Computer-Aided Process Planning methods and software tools to support automation of machining on Mill/Turn machining centers. Following his Ph.D., he worked for several years with the NSF Engineering Research Center for Reconfigurable Machining Systems at the University of Michigan. His work focused on developing software applications to assist manufacturers design and plan operations on advanced machining lines that could be rapidly reconfigured to meet changes to a product’s design or production volume. In 2003 he joined the faculty of the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of British Columbia as junior chair of the NSERC sponsored research program in Virtual Machining. His work at this time focused on the modeling of cutter/workpiece engagement geometry to support process modeling for aerospace machining applications. In 2007 he joined the faculty of the Engineering and Design Department at Western Washington University where he is currently director of the Manufacturing Engineering program. His teaching and scholarship interests lie in the areas of geometric modeling, design, CAD, DFM, CAM and CNC machining.

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In summer 2013 Western Washington University began the process of transitioning its three well-established and ABET ETAC accredited engineering technology programs in Electronics, Manufacturing, and Plastics into Electrical Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, and Plastics & Composites Engineering programs respectively. It took just over four years, but now we have successfully completed that process. All three engineering programs produced their first graduates in spring 2016, were reviewed for ABET EAC accreditation in the 2016-17 review cycle, and received ABET EAC accreditation late summer 2017, which is retroactive to October 2015 so graduates from the programs’ first two years have ABET accredited degrees. While this transition was clearly a chance for us to improve the opportunities for program graduates, one of the major concerns for everyone involved was the maintenance of the experiential learning and significant laboratory components that had been hallmarks of the engineering technology programs and one of the major reasons behind the success of engineering technology program graduates. This paper will briefly explain the engineering technology programs as they were before the transition, and why we believed that this was the right decision for students, employers and the department even though the programs were all strong and attracting large numbers of students. It will review the steps we took, including curricular planning and the role of our Industrial Advisory Committees in that planning, hiring large numbers of new faculty and integrating them into the experiential learning culture of the department, and the transition of students from the old programs to the new programs. Most importantly, it will outline the steps we took in order to be ready for ABET EAC accreditation in the shortest amount of time possible, which was requirement specified by Western’s upper administration. Finally it will discuss the lessons we learned making the transition from engineering technology programs to engineering programs and what we have found now that we have completed the transition.

Newcomer, J. L., & Larson, N., & Morton, T. D., & Yip-Hoi, D. M. (2019, June), Transitioning to Engineering Without Losing Experiential Learning Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33463

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