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Work in Progress: Flexibility and Professional Preparation via a Multidisciplinary Engineering Curriculum

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Curricular Design and Assessment

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

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Paper Authors


Noah Salzman Boise State University

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Noah Salzman is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University, where he is a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and IDoTeach, a pre-service STEM teacher preparation program. His work focuses on the transition from pre-college to university engineering programs, how exposure to engineering prior to matriculation affects the experiences of engineering students, and engineering in the K-12 classroom. He has worked as a high school science, mathematics, and engineering and technology teacher, as well as several years of electrical and mechanical engineering design experience as a practicing engineer. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College, his Master's of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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Vicki Stieha Boise State University

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Vicki Stieha, Ph.D. is a faculty member at Boise State University. She earned her doctorate from the University of Cincinnati. Her current work and research focuses on pedagogical and curricular reform in higher education with special attention to increasing the success of underrepresented students.

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Amy J. Moll Boise State University

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Amy J. Moll is a Professor in the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering at Boise State University. Moll received her B.S. degree in Ceramic Engineering from University of Illinois, Urbana in 1987. Her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees are in Materials Science and Engineering from University of California at Berkeley in 1992 and 1994. Following graduate school, Moll worked for Hewlett Packard (San Jose, Calif. and Colorado Springs, Colo.). She joined the faculty at Boise State as an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering in August of 2000. Along with Dr. Bill Knowlton, Moll founded the Materials Science and Engineering Program at BSU and served as the first chair. From 2011 to 2017, she wasDean of the College of Engineering. Her research interests include engineering education and microelectronic packaging, particularly 3-D integration and ceramic MEMS devices.

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JoAnn S. Lighty Boise State University

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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. 10.18260/1-2--31287

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015