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Engineering Beyond Boundaries


References and reports


Task Force Update, September 22, 2008

COE 2010 Task Force funds projects to transform undergraduate education.

The following projects were selected for funding by the COE 2010 Task Force:

Computational Methods in Materials Processing: Assistant Professors Ryan Kershner and Paul Evans, along with Senior Information Processing Consulting Paul Oliphant, are developing a new materials science course that will connect computer-based simulations with math content. Students will learn equations and math concepts while gaining realistic experience in using computers for problem-solving. The class will also create computational models that can be applied to many engineering disciplines.

Inter-ENGR 150-SI Problem Solving Workshop: Faculty Associate and Director of Supplementary Instruction Jia-Ling Lin, along with Professors Gregory Moses, Nicola Ferrier, Robert Witt, Physics Professor Peter Timbie, Assistant Dean Donald Woolston and Tao Han, will create online materials to strengthen the instructional part of the supplementary program. The materials will allow students with different learning preferences to study and solve problems at their own pace in “gateway” courses such as statics, dynamics and introductory physics. The project is part of a strategy to reduce attrition in engineering enrollment and increase the ability of students to solve practical problems.

Enhancing Liberal Studies for Engineering Students: Professor Jeffrey Russell and Director of the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies Daniel Kleinman, along with CALS Assistant Dean Sarah Pfatteicher, are leading a team exploring how to better expose engineering students to the humanities and social sciences, a need addressed by two recent studies by the National Academy of Engineering. Russell and his colleagues will evaluate current opportunities in the humanities for engineering students. The team will provide recommendations on how students can maximize elective credits to gain a comprehensive understanding of the social contexts of engineering projects, such as cultural and political issues, which will help students prepare for meaningful careers.

International Engineering Development: Associate Professor Giri Venkataramanan and Adjunct Professor Norm Doll are developing a course to provide leadership training for students participating in international projects. Initially, students will design and implement projects in countries where the UW-Madison Engineers Without Borders chapter is active. The course will offer an organized structure for students wanting to provide engineering services to third world countries and gain global experience.

Video-Enhanced Instructional Material for Statics: Professor Michael Plesha will develop video clips and animations for Engineering Mechanics and Astronautics 201: Statics, one of the first engineering courses that many students take. The videos will help students understand phenomena that are difficult to comprehend or visualize, such as mechanisms in structures, bearings that support shafts, and construction of free body diagrams.

Engineering Leadership: Building Capacity at all Levels: Faculty Associate Chris Carlson-Dakes, along with Professors Patricia Brennan, John Booske, Nicola Ferrier, Jeffrey Russell and Human Ecology Professor Emeritus Chere Gibson, is developing an engineering leadership course to help students develop core leadership skills that will apply to leadership roles beyond the classroom. Students will examine their personal leadership and communication styles while developing a leadership portfolio documenting their work on a course project. Ultimately, students will leave with an understanding of what it means to be leaders in their fields and debunk the myth that they can't be leaders in industry until many years into their careers.

Introduction to Society's Engineering Grand Challenges: Professor Susan Hagness leads a cross-disciplinary group in expanding the freshman Grand Challenges course, which aims to inspire students to become engineers to improve the quality of life around the world. Based on challenges outlined by the National Academy of Engineering, the course will now include technical communication components to advance the Writing Across the Engineering Curriculum system initiated by Director of Technical Communications Laura Grossenbacher. Three additional faculty instructors will join the course, a key step toward long-term sustainability.

Engineering Problem Solving with Computers: Professors Gregory Moses, John Hoopes, Robert Nowak and Jim Rawlings will assess the three computer problem solving courses they developed as a 2010 pilot program. The courses are in the civil and environmental engineering, chemical and biological engineering and engineering physics departments. This year, the team will add a fourth course in electrical engineering. Each course is individual and teaches material from its specific department. This project allows the faculty members involved to collaborate in finding effective methods to introduce sophomore students to the principles of computer problem solving.