Iron Range Engineering

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 8-2021


In this paper, we address the achievements to date and the learnings from the development and ten-year implementation of the Iron Range Engineering (IRE) program while articulating its future directions. IRE uses research-based instructional strategies to implement a project-based learning (PBL) curriculum where authentic design sits at the heart of each semester’s learning experiences. Industry projects are used to provide the learning context that spans the three engineering domains of professional, technical, and design capabilities. Delivered as an upper-division program to graduates of community colleges, the IRE model attracts a wider gender, racial, and socio-economic diversity. The rural IRE program has been replicated successfully in a metro region. Both programs have small enrollments, are resource intensive, and immerse student engineers in two years of PBL curriculum with industry clients leading to a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE). Many unique learning strategies with the potential to advance engineering education have been developed by these programs. In an effort to propagate the use of these strategies, IRE has developed a new program designed for higher enrollments while both decreasing resource intensity and further expanding the diversity of the profession. This new entity, known as the Iron Range Engineering Bell program, attracts community college graduates from across the U.S. Using the framework of looking forward, this paper briefly describes the motivations behind the IRE model, its background, and the specific details of its philosophies and implementation. In the results section, both advancements and new learning strategies are described in a way that others can seek inspiration for possible adaptation. Finally, the new Bell program is described along with its potential for impact on change in engineering education.


Integrated Engineering

Publication Title

Advances in Engineering Education