Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date



Engineering and society have always been intertwined, especially with the accepted realization of technology's significant and rapidly increasing influence on the evolution of society. As a profession, engineering has a vital role in sustainably meeting needs and exploring opportunities that are ever changing and evolving. As societal and industry needs have evolved, engineering education itself has raised the call several times for evolving the way engineers are educated; however, the recent history of engineering education is, overall, one of missed opportunities. This was brought to a headline recently as ASEE leadership authored an article entitled “Stuck in 1955, Engineering Education Needs a Revolution.” Those words say it all. We see a need for a revolution in engineering education that looks at developing a whole new engineer that is equipped to operate in the age of information and Industry 4.0. This is vital to not only the field of engineering but for society.

This paper parallels the calls for change in engineering education with the development story of a multi-disciplinary engineering education model that is often referred to as a beacon of light for change in engineering education. As is highlighted in the currently ongoing ASEE workforce summit series, the world of engineering is shifting beneath our feet. The world of engineering education must shift with it or face irrelevancy. The future iterations of this program are focused on developing graduates with digital savvy, new skills in innovating and collaborating, problem framing expertise, and horizontal leadership skills, while putting emphasis on the impacts in the economic development of rural regions.

In the initial stages, 1990’s–2000’s, the program’s faculty spent time innovating in courses and curricula trying to shift towards the recently released ABET 2000 student outcome criteria in a rural community college setting. The mid-2000’s brought the development of a multi-disciplinary upper division university satellite program that embraced the Aalborg (DK) model of PBL. The new multi-disciplinary program had ABET outcomes at its core, focusing on the development of a whole new engineer, especially developing innovative strategies to intentionally promote growth of the professional person. By 2020, the program had achieved disruption, earning an ABET innovation award and being named an “emerging world leader in engineering education” in the Reimagining and Rethinking Engineering Education report. The latest evolution of the program combines on-line learning and work-based learning for a sustainable model that serves a culturally diverse nationwide audience of community college completers. This is a story of innovative curricula putting team-based project learning at its core. Promising strategies addressed in the paper include ABET outcomes, reflection, identity building, metacognition, teamwork, industry PBL, recruiting, learning communities, and continuous improvement. The conclusion puts a spotlight on where the program and engineering education in the U.S. needs to journey next.


Integrated Engineering

Conference Name

2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Conference Place

Minneapolis, MN