WIP; FROM GENERAL TO INTEGRATED; AN EVOLUTIONARY ENGINEERING CURRICULUM DESIGN APPROACH
The University of Maine has recently established the Brunswick Engineering Program, a first and second year engineering program that utilizes an integrated curriculum, and that covers the equivalent of the Freshman and Sophomore years of the B.Sc. in Mechanical, Electrical, Civil and Computer Engineering (the students then complete their Junior and Senior years at the respective departments at the main campus). The programs’ principal objective is to expand the engineering educational alternatives in the Maine Midcoast region, while at the same time implementing advances in engineering pedagogy with the aim of achieving a high level of curriculum integration. It is expected that these measures will enhance the learning experience and increase retention of the nonresidential student body.
While many approaches for integration exist, in this particular case, and in order to incorporate the specific constraints of each destination degree program, the first step taken was to create a general curriculum, as the starting point from which to apply integrative measures, both horizontally and vertically across the two year program duration. Pedagogic approaches such as problem based learning and classroom flipping are combined with subject integration strategies (such as irregular subject delivery and shared projects among the courses) that result in an increased correlation among the subjects. The result is a first year curriculum (second year curriculum still under development) composed of two core courses each semester, Integrated Engineering 1 and 2, and Engineering Studio 1 and 2, representing the equivalent of the traditional first year calculus and physics sequence, as well as an engineering computing course, an engineering graphics course, engineering mechanics (statics), and the traditional albeit in this case general introduction to engineering course. Additional courses such as chemistry and English are delivered the traditional way. In the second year this structure is continued, however the Engineering Studio course splits into a track catering for the Electrical and Computer Engineering program and a separate one for the Mechanical and Civil Engineering degree program.
This work-in-progress describes the procedure utilized to design and evolve the curriculum, and in particular addresses how the transition from a general first year engineering curriculum to a curriculum that integrates the delivery of most of the mathematics, science and engineering components in the context of engineering applications is being accomplished.