Asee peer logo

Work in Progress: Redesigning a Multidisciplinary Engineering Statistics Course

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Multidisciplinary Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Multidisciplinary Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


James Burns Western Michigan University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Jim Burns, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Industrial and Entrepreneurial Engineering and Engineering Management Department
Bio: Jim Burns holds a Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering from Western Michigan University, and has more than 10 years industry experience in the manufacturing sector in a variety of roles including process engineering, operations management, and technical sales. His area of expertise centers on applying OR/MS and Simulation techniques to Supply Chain & Operations Management problems, and has also conducted research in the areas of Human Factors and Work Design for evaluating time and motion efficiencies of operations. Jim also holds an undergraduate IE degree and a Six Sigma Greenbelt. Prior to joining the faculty at Western Michigan, Jim was an Assistant Professor for the Industrial Engineering Technology program at Purdue Polytechnic Institute.

visit author page

author page

Megan Hammond Western Michigan University

Download Paper |


Over time, the evolution of academic programs can place new constraints on courses that could not be envisioned when a course was originally designed. This may be especially true for multidisciplinary courses where additional constraints due to changing accreditation requirements, new programs adopting a course, and the shifting emphases of academic programs likely occur more frequently than in many program-specific courses. For example, a new program may require a certain topic (e.g., discrete probability distributions) to be emphasized more than the current programs, which may in-turn de-emphasize the instruction of other course topics. A logical result is that, over time, any attempt to change how a course is taught will be met with resistance from the course’s stakeholders. In a worst-case scenario, the constraints could become so numerous, interdependent, and complex that more effort is expended maintaining the status quo than is spent on improving and adapting the course’s content, instructional methods, and outcomes to a changing world.

In this work-in-process paper, we will outline our initial work for a two to three-year effort to redesign a multidisciplinary, lab-based, engineering statistics course at a large public university. The course was originally designed nearly 20 years ago for the college’s Industrial Engineering program and today serves six programs and approximately 25% of the college’s undergraduate students. The timing of this effort coincides with an ever-increasing interest in data science and analytics, and a larger effort to restructure the university’s longstanding general education requirements. Our work completed to-date consists of initial efforts to understand the course’s constraints stemming from topical coverage, understand stakeholder requirements and preferences, understand student views about the course, and establish a general vision for the future. In this paper, we focus on student views and opportunities to enhance instructional methods to improve student engagement and discuss considerations for assessing student learning. We also outline our larger vision for the course as it relates to students’ understanding of statistics and the potential for the course to play a role in the university’s general education program.

Burns, J., & Hammond, M. (2019, June), Work in Progress: Redesigning a Multidisciplinary Engineering Statistics Course Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33577

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: © 2019 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