Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Engineering as a discipline sits at the volatile intersection of a professional landscape that is rapidly changing and an educational system that is perennially resistant to change. Recent calls for innovation and creativity including “The Moonshot Approach to Change in Higher Education” (Cavagnaro and Fasihuddin, 2016) outline a needs analysis for education in the 21st century. Various institutions are taking a variety of approaches to transform education and support the development of students prepared to take on “wicked” problems requiring multidisciplinary perspectives. This paper reports on one institution’s work-in-progress to build innovation and creativity into a flexible, ABET accredited undergraduate Engineering B.S. degree that provides a variety of choices to undergraduate engineering students.
The new B.S. Engineering degree has a core set of required foundational courses in engineering, a multi-year design sequence, and allows for self-defined pathways. The new curriculum also offers three defined degree pathways that have been chosen based on an examination of student “fate” data: secondary education, pre-medical, and environmental studies. The fate analysis examined the paths of students who were enrolled in an engineering or STEM major in one year and samples their major choice in the following year. This analysis maps the flow of students into and out of the major with demographic slicers to more closely understand these in-migration and out-migration choices. Engineering + Teaching is designed to allow students to earn both an accredited engineering degree and licensure as a mathematics, science or engineering teacher, while Engineering + Pre-med will allow students to take all of the coursework required for admission to medical schools. Engineering + Environmental Studies leverages the environmental engineering courses currently offered through civil engineering plus coursework in geosciences, social science, and public policy to strengthen the multidisciplinary curriculum. Self-defined pathways will better accommodate existing minors (e.g. business, supply chain, art, psychology, anthropology) outside the college of engineering which will complement the design components in the engineering courses. Our analysis of student data suggests the new B.S. Engineering options will be attractive to women and underrepresented minorities who have migrated out of the college in prior years.
This new degree is being offered with existing courses augmenting a multidisciplinary design intensive vertical curriculum supported at the 200-level, 300-level, and capstone levels by three newly designed courses. The addition of these three design courses, along with engineering design activities in our established First-Year Engineering program, introduces a “design spine” in the curriculum that emphasizes problem-based learning across all four years of the engineering degree program.
The program is theoretically founded in self-determination theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) with its components of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Each aspect of the theory guides curricular development, pedagogical methods, and outcomes assessment in the design-centered curriculum. This paper will detail the development of the program and its related research inquiry which includes a qualitative comparison of the students who are drawn to this new approach to Engineering.
Salzman, N., & Stieha, V., & Moll, A. J., & Lighty, J. S. (2018, June), Work in Progress: Flexibility and Professional Preparation via a Multidisciplinary Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31287
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