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Research Project: Aligning Engineering Education with Engineering Practice

Engineering FountainThe overarching hypothesis for this NSF funded study is that the current educational system is inadequately aligned with engineering practice. That is, experiences in high school and college give students an incomplete picture of what it means to be an engineer, and of the skills and knowledge they need to develop to become one. Therefore, potential engineering talent is lost at all stages as students move from high school to college and into professional practice. We hypothesize that aligning the engineering education pathways with the skills, knowledge, values, and ways of thinking of practicing engineers (their "epistemic frame" ) will lead to and retain a broader and more diverse engineering workforce. This project is studying (1) the engineering practice to identify the skills, knowledge, values, epistemologies, and ways of thinking of effective engineers; (2) STEM teacher and guidance counselor beliefs to better understand how classroom and counseling connections inform and/or hinder future studies and careers in engineering; (3) the learning experiences of freshman engineering students to determine what influences them to enter and remain in the field of engineering; and (4) the intended and enacted curriculum within high school pre-engineering classes (Project Lead the Way-PLTW) to investigate the level of integration of STEM content. 

Current Work - see publications for more details of findings!

Engineering practice research group, within the College of Engineering:

Engineering education research group, within the School of Education:

Data from both portions of the project that does not include sensitive information will be made available to other researchers after the conclusion of the project efforts (estimated to be in 2013).