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Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I:  Projects across the Curriculum
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Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part I: Projects across the Curriculum

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This presents a project-based approach to engineering and science education -- preparing students for the 21st century by focusing on problem-solving and critical thinking -- by describing the WPI …

This presents a project-based approach to engineering and science education -- preparing students for the 21st century by focusing on problem-solving and critical thinking -- by describing the WPI Plan.

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  • 1. Rick Vaz Dean, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies Worcester Polytechnic Institute [email_address] Preparing the Engineer of the Future, Part 1: Project Work Across the Curriculum
  • 2. Life and Work in the 21 st Century
    • Rapid change
      • Scientific and technological
      • Societal, political, economic
    • Evolving demands
      • Flexibility, adaptability
      • Working across boundaries
      • Understanding connections
    • Rethinking educational goals
      • Technological competence
      • Broad skills and perspectives
      • Creative problem solving
      • Effective leadership
  • 3. Institutional Profile of WPI
    • Private, founded in 1865
    • 3000 undergraduates, 1100 graduate students, 230 FTE faculty
    • Most students major in engineering, science, or management
    • $12M research + 25 PhDs annually
    • Project-based curriculum since 1970
    • WPI sends more engineering & science students abroad than any other US college or university
  • 4. The WPI Plan (1970)
    • A Faculty-Led Revolution
      • No required courses!
      • Three degree-required projects
      • Focus on outcomes and abilities
      • 7-week terms, non-punitive grading
    • The Vision: “Technological humanists”
      • Developing a broad perspective
      • Integrating theory and practice
      • Addressing societal needs
      • Considering the impacts of technology
      • Understanding and working with others
  • 5. WPI Plan Degree Requirements, 1970
    • 2 nd year: Humanities and Arts Sufficiency
      • 3 credit hour capstone in chosen area
      • Research paper, musical composition, etc.
    • 3 rd year: Interactive Qualifying Project
      • 9 credit hours, interdisciplinary
      • Examine social implications of technology
    • 4 th year: Major Qualifying Project
      • 9 credit hours, in major field
      • Senior design or research problem
    • 4 th year: Competency Exam
      • Solve a problem in 72 hours
      • Defend to board of faculty
  • 6. The Interactive Qualifying Project
    • Not a course – small teams work independently under faculty direction
    • Interdisciplinary teams of students; faculty from all areas
    • Projects proposed by agencies and organizations (65% off campus)
    • Connecting science and technology with societal issues and human needs
    • “… to enable WPI graduates to understand, as citizens and professionals, how their careers will affect society.”
  • 7. Educational Objectives of the IQP
    • Research skills
    • Problem solving
    • Contextual understanding
    • Critical thinking
    • Written & verbal communication
    • Professional and personal growth
    • Making connections:
      • society and technology
      • classroom and real world
      • work, cultures and communities
  • 8. Examples of IQPs
    • Erosion and flood control in informal settlements
      • Namibia Housing Action Group
    • Alerting systems and egress for the deaf
      • VicDeaf, Melbourne, Australia
    • Sustainable small-scale aquaculture
      • Institute of Fisheries, San Jose, Costa Rica
    • Identifying Priorities for Conservation
      • Greater Worcester Land Trust
    • Pedestrian Safety at Crosswalks
      • City of Cambridge
    • Wind Farm Site Assessment
      • Ocean Ranch, Nantucket Sound
  • 9. The Major Qualifying Project
    • Not a course – small teams work independently under faculty direction in the major field
    • Capstone design or research (20% off-campus)
    • About half externally sponsored; most others related to faculty research
    • Application of disciplinary skills and knowledge to professional-level challenges
  • 10. Educational Objectives of the MQP
    • Application of knowledge in major
    • Demonstration of depth and advanced skills
      • Capstone design
      • Basic or applied research
    • Written & verbal communication
    • Effective teamwork
    • Preparedness for work or graduate study
  • 11. Examples of MQPs
    • Intelligent Tutoring Systems
      • MTA Szataki
    • Mapping Underwater Turbulence
      • City of Venice
    • Water Supply Modeling for Wachusett Reservoir
      • MA Dept of Conservation & Recreation
    • Cam Blade Load Design
      • Gillette
    • Human Artery Plaque Progression
      • National Science Foundation
  • 12. Preparing Students for Projects with more Projects
    • First Year Experience
      • Great Problems : food, energy, health
      • Social and global awareness
      • Research, writing, teamwork
    • Formative Design Courses
      • Emphasis on process and context
      • Prototype development
      • Application, integration, synthesis
    • Project Work in Courses
      • Social science
      • Math and physical science
      • Engineering
      • Management
  • 13. Projects Across the Curriculum at WPI, 2008
    • 1 st year: First Year Project Experience
      • Great Problems Seminar – 6 credit hours
      • Currently scaling up to all 800 freshmen
    • 2 nd year: Humanities and Arts Capstone
      • Seminar or practicum in chosen area
    • 2 nd – 4 th years: Course Project Work
      • E.g., formative engineering design
    • 3 rd year: Interactive Qualifying Project
      • 9 credit hours, interdisciplinary
    • 4 th year: Major Qualifying Project
      • 9 credit hours, in major field
  • 14. Questions for Discussion
    • How far can we take project-based learning – are there practical limits?
    • How does project-based learning resonate (or collide) with faculty and institutional cultures?
    • What are the implications for faculty hiring, development, and rewards?
  • 15. For More Information http://www.wpi.edu [email_address]

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