FIE 2002 Paper Abstracts

Improving the Electrical Systems Service Course

by Grigg, C., and Wheeler, E. (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology)

Abstract:  This work-in-progress describes one aspect of a project being undertaken at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology to improve the effectiveness of electrical engineering service courses offered to mechanical engineering students. The authors had taught these courses several times and were dissatisfied with the outcomes. The delivery features of the new course will include studio format; presentation of material from the viewpoint and in the context of the discipline being served; a variety of active learning strategies; and Web-based learning and assessment tools including on-line quizzes, lecture notes, multimedia simulations, and detailed problem solutions in an intuitive point-and-click format. For the duration of the project, a board will review the educational materials developed, provide information for their continuous improvement, and assure that the materials developed can serve as a model for the development of service courses in electrical systems.

Faculty Learning Communities

by Layne, J., Froyd, J., Morgan, J., and Kenimer, A. (Texas A&M University)

Abstract:  Professional development for teaching frequently focuses on methodology and strategy. Information and opportunities to practice techniques are often offered in one-time, interactive workshops. However, one-shot faculty development opportunities are not designed to address a critical element of the faculty role in the learning/teaching dynamic-individual beliefs, experiences, and research regarding learning.
Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) is a collaborative initiative at Texas A&M University in which interdisciplinary groups of participants examine learning. The format includes ninety-minute weekly meetings over an academic year, recommended readings on learning, reflective journaling, and individual and collaborative tasks. FLC provides an opportunity to explore learning from multiple perspectives. This process validates what participants know, while supporting the development of a common language and theoretical foundation from which to dialogue. The sustained nature of the interaction provides an increased sense of connectedness and community. Through participation in FLC, faculty members draw ideas, energy and perspective from their exchange that they incorporate into their thinking about, and practice of, learning and teaching.

Clustering Courses to Build Student Community

by Morgan, J., and Kenimer, A.L. (Texas A&M University)

Abstract:  The Dwight Look College of Engineering typically enrolls 1400 to 1700 starting freshmen each year. The majority of these freshmen take their first-year math, science, and engineering courses as a cluster. A cluster is a collection of approximately 100 students who have the same schedule for a group of three or four courses. Even though the freshman class as a whole is quite large, common course scheduling and the use of teams within individual courses promote the development of a small community atmosphere. There is much evidence of this community effect. First, clustered students generally progress more quickly through key freshman-level courses. Second, students develop strong friendships within their clusters and are likely to congregate in large groups for study and to continue clustering by coordinating their course schedules for following semesters. Finally, first and second year retention of students in clustered courses is frequently greater than for nonclustered students.

Peer Teacher from an Instructor's Perspective

by Morgan, J., Kenimer, A., Kohutek, T., Rinehart, J., and Lee, M. (Texas A&M University)

Abstract:  Following a pilot program during the 20002001 academic year, the Dwight Look College of Engineering at Texas A&M University placed a peer teacher in every section of every first-year engineering course starting in fall 2001. Seven upper-division "peer teachers" were assigned to eight of the first-year engineering learning communities. The peer teachers were part of a teaching team: 1 problem-solving faculty; 1 graphics faculty; 1 graduate teaching assistant; and 1 undergraduate peer teacher. The peer teachers attended the engineering class; offered academic support two evenings a week on calculus, physics, chemistry and engineering; and served as mentors and guides for the first-year students in their particular community/course cluster.
The pilot program was successful in improving the overall section GPA (2.85 with peer teacher and 2.61 without peer teachers). There was also a positive, significant difference in how the students interacted with the faculty, graduate teaching assistants, and their team members.
Although the peer teachers are only part of a larger effort (including more active learning, use of teams and technology, course clustering, etc.), it is clear that they have contributed greatly to the success of our students. This paper will present the implementation of the program and evidence of its success.

Integrating "Smart" Materials into a First-year Engineering Curriculum:  A Case Study

by Penrod, L., Talley, D., Froyd, J., Caso, R., Lagoudas, D., and Kohutek, T. (Texas A&M University)

Abstract:  Developments in materials science are creating new possibilities for engineering designs. For example, multifunctional materials, such as shape memory alloys (SMA) or piezoelectric materials are referred to as "smart" materials since designers can use properties of these materials to construct components of adaptive mechanisms. For example, researchers are using shape memory alloys (SMA) to build biomimetic systems that mimic the behavior of biological organisms such as fish or insects. The ability of SMA components to change shape in response to thermal or electrical stimuli considerably simplifies construction of biomimetic systems. As multifunctional materials are changing the practice of engineering, providing undergraduate students with exposure and experiences with these materials and their potential for new design options should be seriously explored.
The proposed paper presents a narrative description of how material on SMA was integrated into a first-year engineering course and a first-year engineering project. Key partners, including an undergraduate engineering student working on a research experience and a first-year graduate student, will describe their roles in integrating material into a first-year engineering course that was taught in Fall 2001. Also, data describing the impact on students and faculty will be presented.

What Drives Diversity

by Pfatteicher, S.K.A., and Tongue, M.P. (University of Wisconsin Madison)

Abstract:  A great deal of effort is being put forth to solve "the diversity problem," the underrepresentation of women and people of color in student and faculty populations at colleges of engineering. This paper reviews our current understanding of the motivations or "drivers" behind the need to increase diversity. These drivers lie along a spectrum from external to internal motivations, and from those that are compliance-focused to those whose goal is change of the culture and profession of engineering. The drivers influence not only the definition of diversity we use, but the solutions and assessment of those solutions as well. Since finding effective solutions to this problem requires highly functional teams of people (the problem is too large for any one person to craft solutions on his/her own), we provide a starting point in the discussion by asking all the team members where they see themselves in this spectrum.

The Design of an Enhanced Curricular Evaluation + Portfolio (ECE+P) Software System

by Schweiker, M., Moore, D.J., and Voltmer, D.R. (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology)

Abstract:  A process for curricular monitoring and providing feedback for the continuous improvement of curricula was presented recently by Moore and Voltmer. The original process was designed to include instructors, administrators, and external reviewers. A subsequent study of the existing software and enhanced capabilities lead to an expansion of the vision and scope of the original evaluation process. The study precipitated the design of a new software system that expands the curricular monitoring to include the student. Improved interaction between the student and instructor as well as grading capabilities is included in the expanded system, the Enhanced Curricular Evaluation + Portfolio (ECE+P) system. An additional enhancement enables every student to store private files and create secure portfolios to which students can grant viewing rights to external guests. The ECE+P system was designed using a Unified Modeling Language (UML) software development tool that allows requirement changes to be incorporated easily. The tool also provides system specifications that can be implemented using various platforms. A discussion of the ECE+P system and the UML tool are included in the full paper and presentation.

An Instructional Module for Engineering Ethics

by Stern, H.P.E., and Pimmel, R.L. (University of Alabama)

Abstract:  This paper describes a short (3 class-hour) module developed to teach engineering ethics. The module has been designed for simple integration into a standard technical course, minimally impacting existing curricula and effectively introducing the need for engineering ethics, the key components in an engineering code of ethics, and resources for help in resolving ethical conflicts. Case studies are used, showing directly how certain ethical issues relate to the practice of engineering and prompting lively in-class discussions. Using cooperative and active learning techniques, the class develops its own code of engineering ethics and compares their code to the professional society codes within their discipline. Test data shows that after taking the module, students are more capable of stating the key components of an engineering code of ethics and are more knowledgeable concerning resources available for resolving ethical dilemmas. Testing also shows that the students have a high awareness of the issues involved in engineering ethics and that, after taking the module, they are significantly more confident concerning their ability to address ethical conflicts in their future professional practice.



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