Understanding engineering

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  • 1. Understanding Engineering: The Methods Behind the Madness All technology came from someone using a form of engineering at one time or another.In that sense, engineering is the foundation of innovation in our modern world. Wanting to playa role in such an influential career I chose to make electrical engineering my course of study.Becoming an electrical engineer (as well as any engineer) is full of hard work and a lot ofpreparation. You deal with such advanced concepts like robotics, circuitry, lasers etc. and whatfascinates me the most is how exactly one is taught to be an engineer. First of all, genres are not just forms. “*Genres+ are frames for social action, locationswithin which meaning is constructed”. Genres are responses to reoccurring situations thatpeople encounter. “Genre develop, then, because they respond appropriately to situations thatwriters encounter repeatedly”. The articles that I found through the UCF library and Google, alldiscuss methods of education in engineering to benefit those in that course of study like me. Iwill be analyzing these three articles from the field, looking specifically at the genre setting,subject, participants, features, and patterns.Subject Finding these articles was particularly hard because of how complex engineering is.Trying to narrow down the subject among articles is nearly impossible due to how broad thefield really is. Engineering is a big industry, and one of the key things for its success is theeducation put towards rising engineers. The unfortunate truth is that “students become boredand inattentive in class, do poorly on test, get discouraged about the courses, the curriculum,and themselves, and in some cases change to other curricula or drop out of school” (Felder and
  • 2. Silverman 1). Engineering is one of the most difficult degrees to obtain due to its intensivecourses, so picking the right education methods is imperative in order to prevent a situationincluded in the previous sentence. The main subject of these articles is that after one receiveseducation in engineering, they should be “proficient in the tools of their trade” (Bernhard 1).Through these articles, authors propose methods of teaching for engineers as well as state theuses of new technologies into the curriculum. The article, “Challenges and Strategies for Electrical Engineering Education” is basicallywhat the title says. It is an outline of specific strategies and challenges for those in theengineering profession, while explaining specific learning styles. Even though the articlesuggests it is only for electrical engineers, its content reflects the whole engineering professionentirely. In “Learning and Teaching Styles in Engineering Education”, Felder describes thedifferent learning and teaching styles associated with the education, and differentiates theircharacteristics. These different learning and teaching styles are to show how engineers learnand the methods for teaching engineering. The article, “Infusion of Emerging Technologies andNew Teaching Methods into The Mechanical Engineering Curriculum at The City College of NewYork”, shows how new technologies are being used for education in the curriculum ofmechanical engineering. The author of this article demonstrates the great role that newtechnology is providing in the education of mechanical engineering.Setting These publications came from the City College of New York, the University of NewHampshire, and North Carolina State University. Since of all these articles had originated from
  • 3. universities, they all are concerning the same basic principles. Finding them through Google andthe UCF library, there were also many relating articles on those sites about innovations, otherteaching methods, and general facts about engineering.Although from different locations, each article mainly focuses on how up and coming engineersshould be educated and the specific methods to do so. The differences with these articles arethe times in which they were published. These are articles range from the late 1980’s, to thelate 1990’s, as well as the year 2011. Being spread out as far as decades creates differencesamongst these methods, especially for engineering. The world of technology is ever growing,and new technology introduced to the field can greatly change the aspects of the field itself. Interms of location the setting of each of these articles are similar in the fact that they are aboutuniversities in the United States, but their dates are completely different, and provide differentinformation. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however, as it allows for a different points ofview on engineering education and allows us to see what exactly has changed over the timeperiod.Participants The writers of these articles are all professors with prior experience in teaching. Theyhave all been there to observe what learning styles and methods are the most beneficial to thatof their students. One of these authors, Linda K. Silverman, is a psychologist who thoroughlyanalyzed the learning styles of engineering students through her article “Learning and TeachingStyles in Engineering Education”. As a psychologist her analysis includes the different forms inwhich engineering students learn, which she was able to observe through prior experience.
  • 4. Although she is not an engineering professor, she provided learning techniques through herexperience in psychology.The other authors are both professors in engineering with Jennifer Bernhard, a professor inelectrical engineering and computer science, and Feridun Delale, a professor in mechanicalengineering. As the same for all engineering professors, both Bernhard and Delale haveexperience in engineering and know the ways in order to become a successful engineer. Theirexperience allows for a good representation of engineering teaching techniques and the use ofnew technologies, in order to educate their students. In Bernhard’s article she recalls a pastexperience where engineering students described the way they learned, and she took thatmelded it into her way of teaching. Understanding how they learn and the strategies for theirsuccess could only be understood by one who is knowledgeable and has past experience in thesubject. Any teacher can teach out of a book , but for students to learn what is needed for theirprofession, they need a professor like these two who have been through the same and fullyunderstand their field. Their articles are written for professors in the education of engineeringas well as the students, in order for them to gain insight on education in that particular field.The readers of this genre should be familiar with the field of engineering in order to fully graspthe concepts discussed.Features These articles, basically all write in the same format. These authors use a traditionalessay format, including an intro, body, and conclusion. Each author uses their professional
  • 5. experience for evidence to support their findings. Within each introduction, the author clearlyaddresses the main subjects of each body paragraph. Each body paragraph includes new waysof teaching and expresses different learning styles, while the conclusion summarizes the use ofall of the learning styles and tries to express a basic understanding of the best teaching methodfor engineering. They give an understanding of exactly who engineers are and how they think aswell as how they learn. In Bernhard’s article, she presents her introduction with her viewpoint on whatengineering education is and what should result from it. She expresses her teaching methodsand the ways she engages her students. In her body paragraphs she lays out what kind ofpeople engineers are and then explains the differences in teaching according to class year.Delale introduces with the importance on the curriculum of engineering, stating that it is“engaged in a continuing effort to review and upgrade its curriculum” (Delale 2). After theintroduction, Delale addresses the role of new technologies in engineering education and inwhat subjects those technologies influence. One of the things that stands out in Delale’s articleis how they use pictures to demonstrate the uses of new technology in the educationenvironment, but the reason for this is that the new technology wouldn’t have been in use inthe time period of the other articles. Within Silverman and Felder’s article, they outlinedifferent learning styles for students and describe specific ways in which those students learn inthe profession. They also use visual examples to explain and define the different learning style,in order to make the information easier to understand for the reader, while the other article
  • 6. sticks to the traditional essay format. At the end of each article, the authors added in a list ofreferences or works cited section. Each article clearly defines who wrote it and where it camefrom, as to convey a sense of acknowledgement for their impacts on education in engineering.Patterns The genre features of these articles show that these research journals are intended forall engineering professors and students, to show what the profession is and what they will needto do in order to become successful as an engineer. When discussing what engineers are, theauthors define them as abstract thinkers who need different means of education. The articlesare all written in an informative tone when presenting the information and include pastexperience to support their ideas. They all come to the general consensus that engineeringeducation requires different methods of teaching, and the techniques listed should be used byan instructor to “meet the needs of most or all of the students in any class” (Silverman andFelder 3). This reveals that they want their students motivated about the education, and wantto include all the resources (technology) in the teaching. Although these articles pertain to the same topic, they do present their information indifferent ways. The articles by Bernhard and Felder/Silverman both explain styles of learningand thinking with engineering students, while Delale’s article discusses more about theapplications of new technology for education. Most of the terminology in the articles is easy tounderstand since they do not directly discuss the complex aspects of the field, and if it isn’t theauthors try to clearly identify what it means. Both Bernhard and Felder/Silverman try to clearlydefine their groupings for thought and learning styles for the reader in order to see the
  • 7. differences among them. Through these clear definitions, the reader can easily identify whetheror they are an auditory learner or whether they prefer real-life experience in order to learn. These articles make it evident that engineering is different from any other profession,and stress the importance of their education since other means of education would not bebeneficial. Engineers require complex education due to the importance of the high level ofmath and sciences required by the profession. Simply this is the truth, and it is furthersupported by the authors’ ideas on learning styles, ways of thinking, and the uses of newtechnology used in the education of engineering. In order to make this possible an authorwould have had to have prior real-life working as an engineer or someone who isknowledgeable in the field of teaching it. The authors want the readers to understand thesethings, but not be turned away from the profession because of its complexity. They simply wantthe reader to understand what it takes to become an engineer and what that education willmean for them.From Genre to __________ : After exploring genres common to the field of engineering through a preliminary genreanalysis, I continued analyzing the language and genres of my field by researching one of thebuilding blocks of becoming an engineer. I gathered articles relating to the education ofengineering that makes one become a successful engineer. Through my research I foundsources discussing the application of new technologies in engineering education (Delale, F et al.(2011); Orange, A et al. (2012); Borrego, M, Lindsay, E, & Madhavan, K. (2011)), the different
  • 8. learning styles of engineers (Felder, R, & Silverman, L. (1988); Kolmos, A, & Holgaard, J. (2003);Holvikivi, J. (2007)), as wells as the various teaching methods involved in engineering education(Bernhard, J.(1997); Goh, S. (2012); Felder, R et al. (2000); Courter, S et al. (1996)). Thesesources have helped me to identify the various aspects of what is involved in the education ofengineers in relation to the field of engineering. In addition, these articles have helped mecontinue exploring the genre conventions that I will need to learn as I enter a new communitythrough my major. These articles offer information on how engineers think, learn, speak, andhow they work with arising technology, which is crucial for anyone to know that is entering thatprofession.Bernhard, J. (1997). ”Challenges and Strategies for Electrical Engineering Education”.Presented at Frontiers in Education Conference. Available at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=632708 Jennifer Bernhard, an Electrical and Computer Engineering professor at the University of New Hampshire, asserts her teaching methods and strategies, and the uses of them in “fostering new perspectives and insights” in engineering education, in her 1997 article “Challenges and Strategies for Electrical Engineering Education”. She supports this assertion through her personal experience as an engineering professor and defining her specific strategies for teaching different levels of engineering. She divides these levels among freshman, sophmores, juniors, seniors, and graduate students, using separate
  • 9. strategies that each correlate to the students particular level of experience. Her purpose was to show other professors and students, in that profession, methods of teaching engineering students in order to further their education. The intended audience for this source is the students or professors involved in the education of engineering, and this audience is targeted by stressing the importance of strategies needed for successful education of engineering students. This source is relevant to my topic because the author focuses on how engineers learn and the teaching methods that allow them to do so. Bernhard states that the main challenge of engineering is “to teach students how to think independently, solve problems, and innovate”. She states what the purpose of engineering education is and argues on what needs to be done in order for that education top come into fruition. This article also relates to the article written by Engineering TA Fellows, as they discuss the fact that they need to recognize this challenge for effective teaching.Borrego, M, Lindsay, E, & Madhavan, K. (2011). “eLearning Research Opportunities inEngineering Education”. Advances in Engineering Education, 2.3, 5-10. Maura Borrego, Euan Lindsay, and Krishna Madhavan, professors from various universities, claim the potential benefit of elearning through technology in engineering
  • 10. education in their article “eLearning Research Opportunities in Engineering Education”.They support this claim by describing how technology has advanced communication,computational, and information technologies, causing an innovation in engineeringeducation making elearning a strong source of learning. Some of these technologiesinclude forms of games, clickers, and technical/team solutions. Through the applicationof eLearning, professors can make use of communicative and informative technologythrough a form of computer infrastructure to advance education. The purpose inwriting this article was to evaluate the potential that elearning will have on engineeringeducation due to the development of new technology. The audience intended for thisarticle is professors in engineering education that would want to implement the use ofeLearning for their students, and the audience was targeted by the authors use of datacollected from engineering courses using eLearning.The source is relevant to my topic as in this article the authors describe elearning isusing forms of technology in order to innovate engineering education. Elearning is agrowing form of teaching and the authors describe that elearning could play a greatpotential role in engineering education. Using elearning there would be networkingframeworks through the technologies and the authors state that “the development ofwell-defined theoretical frameworks centered on the use and adoption of elearning hasgreat potential to forge new directions in the field of engineering education.” Thissimply means that these “theoretical frameworks” would be based on using advances in
  • 11. information and communication technologies to further eLearning education in engineering. The article is relatable to the one written by Amy Orange et al, who describes the application of new technology within the engineering curriculum. Both are similar as they describe the use of new technology in engineering education, but in this source it describes a broader spectrum of the applications of eLearning in general.Courter, S et al. (1996). Strategies for Effective Teaching. A Handbook for TeachingAssistants. Retrieved from http://www.engr.wisc.edu/services/elc/strategies.pdf Sandra Courter et al, members of the College of Engineering TA Fellows, assert their concept of an effective teaching method for engineering education in their 1996 handbook “Strategies for Effective Teaching: A Handbook for Teaching Assistants”. They support this assertion through outlining the specifics of a better engineering education through practical examples and techniques. The article addresses the use of practical examples, show and tell, case studies, guided design projects, open-ended labs, flowchart technique, open-ended quizzes, brainstorming, and using the question-and- answer method. The purpose in writing this handbook was to layout specific examples for teaching assistants to use in the engineering curriculum. The audience for this handbook was intended for teaching assistants in the engineering curriculum, but it is beneficial to anyone involved in engineering education as a layout of teaching methods.
  • 12. The audience is targeted by describing specific teaching methods that would be useful to anyone teaching in engineering education. The source is relevant to my topic as it describes specific teaching methods used in engineering education. As stated by the source, the mission of the College of Engineering is to “create, integrate, transfer, and apply engineering knowledge”. This simply means that this concept of engineering is to be achieved through using this handbook for effective teaching methods in order to match the students’ learning styles. The source is also relatable to the article written by Felder et al, who also outlines specific teaching methods in the curriculum. While the handbook is also relatable to the article written by Bernhard, it is slightly different as it is teaching methods for the overall engineering education experience, while in Bernhard’s she divides the teaching methods by level of education gained so far.Delale, F et al. (2011). "Infusion of Emerging Technologies and New Teaching Methods intoThe Mechanical Engineering Curriculum at The City College of New York." Advances inEngineering Education, 2.4, 14-50.
  • 13. Feridun Delale et al, professors of the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the CityCollege of New York, asserts the role of using new technologies and teaching methodsinto the engineering curriculum through their 2011 article “Infusion of EmergingTechnologies and New Teaching Methods into The Mechanical Engineering Curriculumat The City College of New York”. They support this assertion by explaining the use ofthese technologies in the mechanics of solids, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics,transfer and rate mechanisms, as well as electrical theory. Although they describe theapplications of emerging technologies in those fields, the specific technology involved isnot clearly defined. While this is true, the authors acknowledge the fact that keepingemerging technologies in mind is very important when reforming the engineeringcurriculum. Their purpose in writing this article was to demonstrate the application ofnew technology in engineering education and showing its importance in reforming anengineering curriculum. The intended audience for this article is anyone who isinterested in the teaching of engineering, such as an engineering professor. Theaudience is targeted by using the mechanical engineering department curriculum at theCity College of New York as an example.The source is relevant to my topic as the use of new technology has a great impact inthe teaching of engineering. Students will learn how to apply emerging technologies fortheir field and will be prepared when they finish their education. They state that so far,“it appears that students’ confidence and overall academic performance has improved
  • 14. in some courses following the reform”, where the reform is meaning the introduction of the new technology. Delale et al, is providing evidence that the new technology has shown results when used in teaching. This article is closely related to the one written by Amy Orange et al, who discusses the use of technology in undergraduate mechanical engineering courses.Felder, R et al. (2000). “THE FUTURE OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION II. TEACHING METHODSTHAT WORK”. Chem. Engr. Education, 34.1, 26-39. Richard M. Felder et al, professors from various Universities, assert their concept on the most beneficial teaching methods in engineering education in their 2000 article “THE FUTURE OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION II. TEACHING METHODS THAT WORK”. They support this assertion by clearly identifying the key components of teaching the course. These key components include formulating and publishing clear instructional objectives, establishing relevance of course material and teach inductively, balancing concrete and abstract information in every course, promoting active learning, using cooperative learning, giving challenging but fair tests, and conveying a sense of concern about the students learning. Their purpose in this article was to outline the key elements towards developing an effective teaching method for engineering students. The intended audience of this article would be those involved in the teaching of engineering. They
  • 15. target this audience by using teaching methods from other schools in engineering education as an example. This source is relevant to my topic as it outlines the best teaching methods involved in engineering education and clearly defines them. The authors state that “performance of an individual student in a class depends on a staggering variety of factors, many of which are out of the instructor’s control”, and even though this so, they created the article in order to provide a way to address many of these factors. They are providing specific ways in which the professor using these methods can further the education of their students. This source is relevant to the articles written by Bernhard and Goh, who also discuss various teaching methods for engineering education.Felder, R, & Silverman L. (1988). “Learning And Teaching Styles In Engineering Education”.Engr. Education, 78.7, 674-681. Richard Felder and Linda Silverman, educators at the North Carolina State University (1988), assert their belief that the diverse learning styles of engineering students play a huge role in their education and the teaching styles given by their instructors has a dramatic effect on the quality of their learning, in their article “Learning and Teaching Styles In Engineering Education”. They support this assertion through examples of
  • 16. psychology, charts, and specific definitions on the different learning styles. The articleshows that although most engineers are active, sensing and visual learners, there aremany that have different learning styles. They try to explain this diversity by claimingthat it is due to all of the different fields in engineering. Their purpose in writing thisarticle was to explain the diverse learning and teaching styles involved in engineeringeducation, to show educators the specific forms of teaching that they should adhere to.The intended audience of this source is anyone who is interested in engineering whowants to know how engineers learn and the best ways for someone to learn in thatfield. They target this audience by stating the specific learning styles used by engineers.The source is relevant to my topic since the methods on teaching engineers and thesubject of how they learn, is a huge part of engineering education. Although Felder andSilverman are not engineers, but rather psychologists who analyze engineers, their workstill has meaning in the education of engineering. They state that how much a studentlearns in a class is “governed in part by that student’s native ability and priorpreparation but also by the compatibility of his or her learning style and the instructor’steaching style”. In order for engineering students to learn it is dependent on how thematerial is given and the teaching methods that the instructor would use. This source isclosely related to the article written by Holvikivi, who also discusses the importance ofunderstanding the learning styles of engineers when trying to make efficient forms ofeducating them.
  • 17. Goh, S. (2012). “Star Power for teaching professional skills to engineering students”. Advances in Engineering Education, 3.1, 3-16. Suk Meng Goh, director of the Curtain Sarawak Research Institute, asserts the uses of the concept of “star power” towards teaching engineers in his 2012 article “Star Power for teaching professional skills to engineering students”. He supports this assertion by defining the role that this new method of teaching plays in the education of engineers. The game “Star Power” was seen to have potential in learning professional engineering skills and is easily adjustable to emphasize different elements of those skills. With such promise, this game could be used widely in engineering education. His purpose in writing this article was evaluating the potential that playing the game of “Star Power” has towards teaching engineers. The intended audience of this source is anyone involved in new methods of teaching engineers, such as professors in engineering or those involved in engineering firms. The author targets this audience by using data collected from an experiment using “star power” for the first time for engineering students in the mechanical engineering department.
  • 18. The source is relevant to my topic because the author introduces a new method of teaching engineers in order to better their education. This method once had a different use, but the author believes in its application towards engineering. He states that “although Star Power is normally played from a sociology context, the current survey suggests that the game can provide a simulation to practice professional skills that are relevant to an engineer.” The game wasn’t designed for engineering, but using it as a teaching method provides practical uses for the education of engineering. This source is closely related to the article written by Bernhard who discusses various teaching methods according to how far you are in engineering education, while Goh describes more of a general teaching method.Holvikivi, J. (2007). “Learning styles in engineering education: the quest to improve didactic practices”. European Journal of Engineering Education, 32.4, 401-408. Jaana Holvikivi, professor at the Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, in their 2007 article “Learning styles in engineering education: the quest to improve didactic practices”, suggests that engineering education can greatly improve through increasing the level of didactic understanding within engineering colleges and through collaborating with educational scientists. She supports this suggestion through analyzing engineers by testing their learning styles, thoroughly describing who they are and how they think, and using Kolb’s model of experiential learning as an example of
  • 19. understanding how engineers learn. Her purpose in writing this article was to show heridea of effective ways of bettering the education of engineers through the study oflearning styles in order to figure out the mind of an engineer and the best way toeducate it. The intended audience is for professors in engineering as well aspsychologists that are interested in the way engineers think and learn. Holvikivi targetsthis audience by using data collected from testing the learning styles of engineeringstudents.The source is relevant to my topic since the article uses the concept of the analysis oflearning styles to create ways to benefit engineering education. She believes that“choosing efficient approaches to develop engineering education is a demanding task”where “considerable effort, research and new insights are needed.” Holvikivi is simplystating that creating effiecient ways to further engineering education is very complexand requires much effort and research in order to truly understand engineers, but it canbe done. This article is relatable to Felder and Silverman’s article as they both discusshow understanding the learning styles of engineers, holds a great importance in theireducation. Although Felder and Silverman addresses the learning styles of an engineerin a more direct answer, Holvikivi addresses it as something that is very vague and hardto understand, and to truly understand engineers it a difficult task.
  • 20. Kolmos, A, & Holgaard, J. (2003). Learning Styles of Science and Engineering Students inProblem and Project Based Education, Department of Planning and Development,Aalborg University. Available at http://www.sefi.be/wp- content/abstracts/1243.pdf Anette Kolmos and Jette Holgaard, professors in the Department of Planning and Development at Aalborg University, in their 2003 article “Learning styles of science and engineering students in problem and project based education”, asserts the idea that engineers although most are active, sensing and visual learners, there are varied examples of diverse learning styles among the other categories within their respective fields. They support this assertion through examples of gathered data of engineering as well as other fields, testing their learning style types. The purpose of writing this article was to identify the most common learning styles used by engineers and differentiate them from other professions. The intended audience for this article is not necessarily just for those involved in the education of engineering, but rather anyone that wants to know who engineers are and how they think, such as professors of engineering, students, and researchers. They target this audience by specifically describing the diverse learning styles of engineers and using data to test their learning styles. This source is relevant to my topic as it determines the learning styles of an engineer. Knowing the learning styles are important in engineering education as it allows for the instructor to shape the course curriculum in order to satisfy that type of learning. The
  • 21. authors stated that “engineering students are not just one cohort with similar learning patterns” and this is important to acknowledge when trying to understand engineers. Among their respective fields, engineers typically think and learn in different ways. The article is relates to the article written by Felder et al, who also discusses the learning styles of engineers and acknowledges its importance and how it pertains to education.Orange, A et al. (2012). “An Evaluation of HigherEd 2.0 Technologies in UndergraduateMechanical Engineering Courses”. Advances in Engineering Education, 3.1, 18- 47. Amy Orange et al, professors from various colleges, express their idea on the use of new technologies to further engineering education in their 2012 article “An Evaluation of HigherEd 2.0 Technologies in Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Courses”. They support this expression by using the data the collected from various colleges that were using higher education technologies such as video solutions, course blogs, course wikis, lecture podcasts, and showing the direct result that occurred in each of those schools. Their purpose in writing this article was to identify the effect that new technology has on engineering education. The intended audience for this paper is most likely professors involved in engineering education that want to further their students’ education. They target this audience by using data collected from engineering students using higher education technologies in their curriculum.
  • 22. The source is relevant to my topic as it discusses the application of new technology in engineering education and how it is beneficial towards the teaching of students in engineering. The authors state that “students who did well in the course overall were more likely to have an enjoyable experience creating a final project and feel that they gained a greater knowledge of course concepts via the project”, where the final project involves using the higher education tech. Through this they show that students overall have a better education when applying new technology into the curriculum, shown through positive results. This article is relatable to the source written by Delale et al, who agrees with the positive aspects of infusing new technologies into the engineering curriculum.Transition to Inquiry:The Missing Piece:[Gap]In order to fill the gap of student input, I would want to create something that allows for anexchange of ideas between professor and student alike. I would create a online blog that wouldpost advances in engineering education, where others can comment on the potential use ofthat advance would be. Students could also post topics on what that they would learn about. Tobetter understand the mind of engineers it would be helpful to include data collected on thelearning styles of engineers, and then allowing others to express what type of learner they think
  • 23. they are. This could work through a survey system, where students can select which learningstyle they believe they are. Students would also be able to post articles they find could be abenefit to engineering education. Teaching methods are able to be found everywhere online,and to find ones that students For student input to be present in later curriculums.