July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
NSF Grantees Poster Session
The role of modern engineers as problem-definer often require collaborating with cross-disciplinary teams of professionals to understand and effectively integrate the role of other disciplines and accelerate innovation. To prepare future engineers for this emerging role, undergraduate engineering students should engage in collaborative and interdisciplinary activities with faculties and students from various disciplines (e.g., engineering and social science). Such cross-disciplinary experiences of undergraduate engineering students are not common in today’s university curriculum. Through a project funded by the division of Engineering Education and Centers (EEC) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), a research team of the West Virginia University developed and offered a Holistic Engineering Project Experience (HEPE) to the engineering students. Holistic engineering is an approach catering to the overall engineering profession, instead of focusing on any distinctive engineering discipline such as electrical, civil, chemical, or mechanical engineering. Holistic Engineering is based upon the fact that the traditional engineering courses do not offer sufficient non-technical skills to the engineering students to work effectively in cross-disciplinary social problems (e.g., development of transportation systems and services). The Holistic Engineering approach enables engineering students to learn non-engineering skills (e.g., strategic communication skills) beyond engineering math and sciences, which play a critical role in solving complex 21st-century engineering problems. The research team offered the HEPE course in Spring 2020 semester, where engineering students collaborated with social science students (i.e., students from economics and strategic communication disciplines) to solve a contemporary, complex, open-ended transportation engineering problem with social consequences. Social science students also received the opportunity to develop a better understanding of technical aspects in science and engineering. The open-ended problem presented to the students was to “Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure” in connection to the future deployment of connected and autonomous vehicles, which is identified as a grand challenge by the National Academy of Engineers (NAE). The findings of the HEPE offering revealed the effectiveness of implementing a cross-disciplinary course setting in enhancing the team learning experience of the engineering students. In the pre-survey, the similarity between the HEPE and traditional groups was observed in most surveyed constructs. HEPE students showed better performances in the majority of assessed constructs in mid-, and post-surveys than the traditional groups of engineering students. Increased trust while working with cross-disciplinary students and higher awareness and appreciation of their learning outcomes are expected to help engineering students learn non-technical professional skills and work effectively in a collaborative environment. Overall, the findings gathered from this initial HEPE offering can provide early evidence to the engineering and broader higher education community in promoting similar HEPE course offerings to advance the professional formation of engineers. In future, the findings of HEPE course offering in Spring 2020 semester will be compared with the findings of the HEPE course offering in Fall 2020 semester to investigate the consistency of the findings. In addition, future research will implement the HEPE concept in traditional engineering courses and evaluate engineering student’s learning beyond the conventional/technical skills.
Dey, K. C., & Rahman, M. T., & Pyrialakou, V. D., & Martinelli, D., & Fraustino, J. D., & Deskins, J., & Roy, A., & Rambo-Hernandez, K. E. (2021, July), Understanding the Potential of a Holistic Engineering Project Experience in the Advancement of the Professional Formation of Engineers Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37972
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