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Beyond Flipped Classrooms and MOOCs: The future of engineering and management education


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These slides describe my efforts to change engineering education. By focusing on group projects and presentations and real-world engineering issues that are applicable to much of industry, we can help students develop and demonstrate real-world skills. Industry will notice well done analysis of real-world issues and this has occurred in my two classes. The next steps are to work more closely with industry, focus more engineering classes on group projects and presentations, and to create new forms of resumes and transcripts. These resumes and transcripts should promote the students through linked presentations that demonstrate the real-world capabilities of students and that help engineering departments build brand images.

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Beyond Flipped Classrooms and MOOCs: The future of engineering and management education

  1. 1. A/Prof Jeffrey Funk Division of Engineering and Technology Management National University of Singapore
  2. 2. What is the Purpose of an Engineering Education?  There are many purposes, but a major one is to find a great job  One that has high pay, and opportunities for contributing, advancing and learning  Not a Dead End
  3. 3. Salaries Vary a Lot  Getting a Degree is Important  But salaries vary a lot for college grads  Some Engineers Have Much Higher Pay than do Others  How can engineers get higher pay, challenges and fun from working with the best engineers?
  4. 4. RANK SCHOOL NAME STARTING SALARY MID-CAREER SALARY 1 Harvey Mudd College $73,300 $143,000 2 United States Naval Academy $77,100 $131,000 3 - tie California Institute of Technology (Caltech) $68,400 $124,000 3 - tie Stevens Institute of Technology $64,900 $124,000 5 Babson College $59,700 $123,000 6 Princeton University $56,100 $121,000 7 United States Military Academy, West Point $74,000 $120,000 8 - tie Stanford University $61,300 $119,000 8 - tie Harvard University $55,300 $119,000 8 - tie Brown University $52,300 $119,000 11 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) $68,600 $118,000 12 - tie Colgate University $51,800 $117,000 12 - tie Yale University $50,000 $117,000 14 - tie Polytechnic Institute of New York University $60,700 $116,000 14 - tie SUNY - Maritime College $59,400 $116,000 14 - tie Cooper Union $61,400 $116,000 17 - tie Tufts University $48,800 $115,000 17 - tie Haverford College $38,600 $115,000 19 Washington and Lee University $48,000 $113,000 20 - tie Lehigh University $58,500 $111,000 20 - tie Williams College $50,400 $111,000 20 - tie University of California – Berkeley $54,700 $111,000 20 - tie Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (RHIT $65,100 $111,000 24 - tie University of Notre Dame $54,000 $110,000 24 - tie Santa Clara University $53,300 $110,000 24 - tie Manhattan College $55,200 $110,000 27 - tie Swarthmore College $51,000 $109,000 27 - tie University of Pennsylvania $57,200 $109,000 Rankings of US Universities by Mid-Career Salary report-2014/full-list-of-schools
  5. 5. How Can Universities Help Students Find These Great Jobs?  Flipped Classrooms, Great Brand Image? Great Classes? Great Alumni?  Yeah, but what if you aren’t a student (or professors) at MIT or Caltech?  And you are smart, hardworking, and creative  Isn’t there another way to the Top?
  6. 6. Flipped Classrooms (and MOOCs)  Students study lectures online, discuss topics in class  The opposite of past – listen to lectures in class, address issues in homework  It might help students learn faster, but will it help engineering (or other) students get top jobs?  Don’t we need to aim higher than flipped classrooms and demonstrate real-world skills of students?
  7. 7.  Let’s think about more fundamental issues
  8. 8. Difficult to see STUDENT’s Capabilities in Resumes or Transcripts  Grades, course names, and university names tell us little about students  Almost half of most successful entrepreneurs don’t have university degrees   More importantly: has or can a student  design products and services?  solve problems?  address important issues?  These are more important issues than grades  Particularly when courses were lectures and the grades were based on exams
  9. 9. Exams Don’t Engage or Test Many Important Things  Exams ask you to  repeat what professor said  solve theoretical problems that don’t exist in real world  Doing well on exams often doesn’t require understanding of real world or its products, services, and challenges  But real jobs require you to understand these things  And many students want to understand these things
  10. 10. An Unspoken Truth of Engineering Schools  Many students (and sometimes professors) don’t know names or understand meanings of current technologies (and startups introducing them)  Internet of Things  Big Data, FinTech  Software-as a Service  Wearable Computing  Similar problems with science and math majors  Students are too busy being tested on their knowledge of science and math to learn about recent technologies  How can students get jobs if they don’t know most recent technologies, i.e., the real world?
  11. 11. Projects and Presentations  Projects better test student abilities  Show whether students can identify important problems  Address them  Identify, create, and implement solutions  Presentations better illuminate student skills  Describe problems and solutions  Illuminate tradeoffs  Work with others to do this
  12. 12. Universities Should…..  Offer project-based classes  Most graduate and upper level undergraduate classes should involve group projects  Projects should address real-world issues  Professors should be mentors and guides  Must understand real world!  Not blind leading blind!  Students should learn from each other  Promote group projects  Enable world to see and learn from them  Integration of group projects for holistic promotion of students  Good presentations will attract attention from industry decision makers
  13. 13. What are Real World Issues?  The projects must address real world issues that are common across industries  Not theory!  Students shouldn’t have to read theoretical papers  They already studied the theory in class!  Now its time to address real issues with real information!  Internet makes this easier
  14. 14. My Two Courses and Projects  Understanding how and when new technologies become economically feasible  Students learn about and analyze changing economics of new technologies (real ones!) in projects  Not all technologies become economically feasible!  This module helps students separate reality from hype  My lectures and projects focuses on technologies that are being commercialized (or will be in the next few years) and the identities of the startups (remember unspoken truth!)  Biz Models for Hi-Tech Products and Services  Students learn to commercialize new products and services and develop biz models for them in lectures and projects  Value proposition, customer selection, method of value capture are key elements of business model Lecture slides and group presentations can be found on my slideshare accounts:;
  15. 15. Both Courses Address Real-World Issues  Understanding how and when new technologies become economically feasible  Industry must decide which technologies to commercialize  Some are more likely to become feasible than others  We must help students think seriously about their careers and the technologies they will emphasize  Biz Models for Hi-Tech Products and Services  Industry must introduce new products and services  And a business model is required for each new product and service  We must help students understand why some products and services (and companies!) are successful Lecture slides and group presentations can be found on my slideshare accounts:;
  16. 16. These Courses Help Engineers Do High-Level Engineering How and when New Technologies Become Economically Feasible and thus what Types of New Products and Services Should be Introduced? Who are customers and what are Value Propositions for New Products (including conceptual design)? Let’s Design and Manufacture the Products (detailed design) Hi-Level Engineering Low-Level Engineering MT5009 MT5016 Design Module
  17. 17. The Real World Loves the Presentations For “Analyzing Hi-Tech Opportunities,” Currently >360,000 views in total; about 600 views per day, and growing
  18. 18. The Real World Loves the Presentations For “Biz Models for Hi-Tech Products,” Currently >260,000 views in total; about 900 views per day, and growing
  19. 19. Mail from Managers is Also Very Positive  My name is Tom LaTempa and I work with Newry Corp., a management consulting firm in the U.S. I’m working on a project with a large materials supplier that specializes in flexible electronic pastes and we’re interested to learn more about printed battery applications. I saw an interesting set of slides you shared that outlined a business model for printed batteries. Is this an area that you are still tracking? Would you be available for a brief discussion (approx. 15 minutes)?  My name is Raffy A. and I'm reaching out from LA. I'm interested in emerging industries and recently came across a slide presentation on LaaS that your students compiled. I wanted to have a short 10 min intelligent conversation with one of them (or you) over skype. I also wanted to know how your "think tank" works with entrepreneurs.  I've been reading some of your presentations on neurosynaptic chips, very interesting. I am fascinated by artificial intelligence and the prospect of computers being able to teach themselves. If you dont mind me asking, What do you make of Peter van der Made's Brainchip? It's rarely mentioned along side Qualcomm's or IBM's truenorth technology development etc.  I noticed you have a slide , Personal Genomics: Business Model for 23andMe. Is that a part of your research? An example of new industry? Have you done some research about the opportunities of ICT companies on Healthcare industry?
  20. 20. A Few More Examples  I am Amy Sun from Huawei Technology. I sent you an email about your slides, Personal Genomics: Business Model for 23andMe. I am very interested in this topic. I am wondering if you are available, I have some questions to ask about new industry. Thanks!  I was very much interested by your work on business model for Oculus. We are going to come into this game as a new player with Immersis, a very different technology, but very immersive. However, our business model still needs to evolve because market will evolve. Hope I will have the opportunity to discuss in Singapore when I come there.   I came across your very well received Slideshare presentation on Uber's business model at the National University of Singapore. Firstly, please let me congratulate you on a wonderfully constructed presentation. I am taking notes! I am the inventor of a ridesharing concept called Texxi (Transit Exchange for XXI Century) that kick started this space when I stumbled on a way to solve the largescale, real-time dynamic ridesharing problem in 2003 - 2004. You can see my presentation here. I may be in Singapore in February or March and would be very pleased to come to see you if you have time.  Winner: 2015 Red Herring Top 100 European Start-ups  Winner: 2015 Red Herring Top 100 Global Start-ups 
  21. 21. What does this tell us about Students?  Lots of views and positive mail suggest high quality slides, and students  more capability than ordinarily thought  can learn and do high-level engineering  Universities should challenge students with real world problems  And promote their group presentations  Help them interact with industry  Let’s move beyond a model of  sole emphasis on science and math  exams in which students repeat what professor says Let’s Challenge Students!
  22. 22. This is Just the First Step!  Students are doing great analysis and presentations  What can be done next?  Include students in loop with mail?  Have students pursue issues raised in mail?  Have students work closely with industry from beginning of projects?  Allow industry to propose projects?  Get additional data for these projects from industry?
  23. 23. What can be Done Next?  Have many classes require group projects and presentations?  Try to link the projects, so that more in-depth analysis can be done?  Each project building from previous ones?  For each student, build network of group presentations?  Make presentations part of a student‘s online transcript and resume?  Build brand image for students, department, and university
  24. 24. Proposals for Future Courses  Students develop detailed designs in group projects  Computer aided designs, or simulations  In some cases, functional prototypes can be made with standard electronic components  Different classes for different technologies  Or focus on technologies applicable to many products and services such as Internet of Things or Big Data  Students develop implementation plans in group projects  Students participate in solving problems posed by open innovation platforms such as Innocentive  Professors help students propose and submit solutions  Large scale one-semester student projects
  25. 25. Large-Scale One-Semester Student Projects  My alma mater (Carnegie Mellon) has many students (>40 students) analyze a problem of national interest   Other universities can do similar projects – both national and local issues  Many large scale technological issues can be addressed  Smart cities, roads dedicated to autonomous vehicles, GPS for buses, wearable computing, and many others  Students from outside engineering can be invited  Students learn about large-scale problems and locals (companies, city government) can learn from students  Such projects attract local media, can excite and motivate students, help build brand image of university
  26. 26. Build Brand Image the Old Fashioned Way!  Demonstrating superior output  Produce graduates who  address real-world issues  solve real problems  make real contributions  Group presentations show real world analytical capabilities of students  They help build links to industry, including alumni  Links to industry and alumni provide help to future group projects, thus promoting positive feedback