Revolutionizing the Mechanical Engineering Undergraduate Curriculum
As the age of technological advancement and occupational opportunity continues to progress, companies must be constantly adjusting and transforming in order to accommodate industry demands. With these quickly developing requirements comes an expectation of employee experience and skill sets. For individuals seeking a career in mechanical engineering, moving forward with the tools necessary for success in this continuously evolving world begins with higher education. This paper is the first of a three-part series to report on the progress of Boise State University’s Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Department’s mission to implement a revolutionized curriculum in their academic program. This paper will describe the establishment of goals and processes used to design a curriculum that will provide undergraduates with an effective foundation for the future. Integrating a change of this magnitude necessitated consideration of a multitude of factors. The primary motivation being to allow students to pursue more diverse and relevant fields of knowledge; this includes more flexibility within course requirements, as well as offering more availability in degree emphases. Incorporating experiential learning was also given acute attention; constructing courses with an increase in hands-on learning, creating class curriculum focused on instilling proper communication and presentation skills, and merging previously taught subjects to better assist student understanding. With these initiatives in mind, the department began formulating a reformed mechanical engineering curriculum based off review of peer institutions and educational literature. Faculty, as well as student and industrial advisory boards, aided in validating this adjusted degree program. During this development phase, several constraints had to be addressed: the curriculum must continue to be ABET accredited, align with university degree policies, appease stakeholders, and serve as an overall practical solution. With all of these factors carefully considered, faculty can begin to develop a curriculum outline to be revised and implemented into their programs. The process of developing goals and constraints for a revolutionized mechanical engineering curriculum that will serve the students of the future is described in this paper.