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- Transformational Paradigm for Engineering and Engineering Technology Education
- This paper discusses a transformational paradigm for engineering and engineering technology education. The knowledge explosion in science, technology, engineering & mathematics (STEM) over the past decades is unquestionably overwhelming. It is important that those involved in STEM quickly adapt. Life-long learning has taken a do-or-die slant, as technological breakthroughs turn obsolete within only a few years of their inception. Medical and law degree curricula became more "professional" and require a "pre-degree" status to be considered for admission. However, the traditional engineering degree plan is essentially the same as that of the mid 20th Century. Legislation in some states places additional pressure on baccalaureate degrees by questioning the need for anything above 120 credit hours. The result is (i) fewer engineering-specific courses; (ii) courses that heavily emphasize theory; and (iii) a subsequent reduction in hands-on, laboratory oriented, experimental learning. Engineering Technology curricula are designed to have experiential learning as the educational backbone. This forces a reduction in mathematical and scientific depth that is compensated by a richness of laboratory courses in almost one-to-one proportion to lecture courses, and which emphasize the application of engineering. The main challenges to establish and maintain experiential learning include (i) availability of slots in the curricula for laboratory courses; (ii) availability of funding for lab equipment and maintenance; (iii) space constraints exacerbated by the ongoing conversion of education laboratory space to graduate research space; and (iv) availability of dedicated faculty for instruction and preparation of labs that are modern, project-based, inquisitive, and synchronized with the lectures. The authors examine the factors that have prevented Engineering Schools & Colleges in the United States from following the medical or law models and advocate that Engineering Technology programs can play an important role in a new educational paradigm for Engineering Education. The model that the authors propose is based upon the thinking behind the Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate (CDIO™ http://www.cdio.org/) initiative.
- Enhancing the Undergraduate Research Experience in a Senior Design Context
- This paper discusses enhancing the undergraduate research experience in a senior design context. Abstract: This paper presents an instructional framework developed by the authors that engages senior students in a 5-credit Research and Development course incorporating project development, implementation, entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity, teamwork, and communication. The paper discusses the development and accomplishments of the course over the past four years in the context of the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) - an initiative at the University of Houston intended to encourage the development and enhancement of undergraduate research skills. The philosophy behind the course is to provide training and real world, small-scale project experience through the completion of a full-project lifecycle from conceptualization to prototype. Brief discussion of those projects that resulted in provisional patents, refereed journal publications, and conference presentations will be given. Some of the features of the course, such as University and industry guest speaker series and final project evaluation by the department's Industrial Advisory Board, leading professionals, faculty, technical staff and peers will be examined. The paper concludes by outlining a set of short term and long term goals for the future direction of the course.
- On B.S.E and B.S.ET for the Engineering Profession
- This article discusses baccalaureate programs for the engineering profession. Abstract: An educational model for ABET-accredited baccalaureate programs in Engineering (E) and in Engineering Technology (ET) is proposed whereby all students inclined to pursue an engineering career would first complete two years of a 4-year ET program. By the end of the sophomore year, those students interested and skilled enough to follow a more theoretical or conceive-and-design side of an engineering career would go on to complete a degree in perhaps two to four additional years in a department that offered E degrees. The 4-year option would satisfy the Department of Education definition of a 6-year first professional degree. On the other hand, those students interested and skilled enough to follow a more applied or implement-and-operate side of an engineering career would opt to complete a degree in two additional years in a department that offered ET degrees. The model offers clearly defined options to students interested in an industry-based engineering profession two to four years after graduation where conceive-, design-, implement- and operate-tasks are assigned. If adopted, the model will result in several benefits including: (1) improved program marketing; (2) increased enrollment and retention rates; and (3) improved human and facility resource utilization at both undergraduate and graduate E and ET education.
- Evaluation Results of an E and ET Education Forum
- This article discusses evaluation results of an Engineering (E) and Engineering Technology (ET) education forum. Abstract: Under a two-year Department of Education FIPSE grant, the College of Technology at the University of Houston hosted a two-day forum in spring 2010 to explore a variety of issues related to E and ET education. A central focus to these discussions revolved around whether E and ET exist as separate fields or whether there was value in thinking about them as part of a continuum. The CDIO (conceive-design-implement-operate) model was used as a framework for thinking about these two knowledge areas as facets of an overarching engineering profession, where the majority of E and ET graduates flow to the middle of CDIO and engage in "design-implement" tasks within three to five years after graduation. Several implications of a continuum-based framework for engineering education were debated within the context of two alternative curricular approaches. The first approach envisions a two-year curriculum in which E and ET students enroll in a set of common technical core courses. At the end of the second year, students would make a well-educated decision to become either engineering or engineering technology majors, subsequently completing a BS degree. The second approach mimics the educational models in medicine, nursing, or law. A professional engineering degree would require a prerequisite four-year baccalaureate degree. This approach renders a BS in an ET area (e.g., mechanical engineering technology) a natural choice. This article reports on the results of the forum. A total of 45 forum participants representing E and ET programs from 35 institutions and 23 states expressed a wide range of views. Some did not agree with the premise of the continuum model or that any changes to engineering education were needed. A significant number viewed one or both alternative curricular approaches as intriguing possibilities. However, even among those who regarded the alternatives favorably, many acknowledged that while they personally would support attempts to implement alternatives at their campuses, contextual and institutional factors posed significant obstacles to change. Participants were also given an opportunity to interact with local industry representatives to gain insight into what employers think about some of these topics. Evaluation results from observations and follow-up surveys suggest that, at least in the immediate future, any potential changes are likely to take the form of positive but small incremental changes in general awareness and attitudes regarding the correct placement of engineering technology within the engineering profession, the correct placement of engineering technology graduates in industry, and the opportunities for creating collaborative efforts between the two disciplines resulting in potential institutional savings and an increase in the pipeline of individuals entering the engineering profession. The project continues in its second year, focusing on the design of a true 2 + 2 transfer program from junior colleges to E and ET.