living with the lab
boosting hands-on learning in engineering education
objectives of freshman year

During efforts to develop a formal assessment plan to determine the effectiveness of the new courses, we realized that we needed a set of guideposts to help us determine if our strategies were effective not only in teaching students, but also in preparing them for their engineering careers. We realized that the work sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering to identify attributes of “The Engineer of 2020” [1] aligned closely with our efforts. The ten attributes identified by the “The Engineer of 2020” Project impacted our work from that point forward. We began mapping our objectives to The Engineer of 2020 attributes, discarding objectives that didn’t match well and adding objectives and activities to increase consonance with those attributes.

The ten attributes of "The Engineer of 2020" are . . .

A1. Strong analytical skills

A2. Practical ingenuity
A3. Creativity
A4. Good communication skills
A5. Lifelong learners
A6. Dynamic, agile, resilient and flexible characteristics
A7. High ethical standards
A8. Leadership skills
A9. Professionalism
A10. Business and management skills

The objectives of our freshman curriculum are tied to the ten attributes above. The objectives are divided into seven "threads" that span the freshman year, providing continuity and repetition for key tools, skills and concepts.

Students completing the curriculum will . . .

1. fabricate, test and evaluate the efficiency of an engineering system (A1,A2,A3,A6)
2. fabricate and test an engineering system where two physical parameters are controlled (A1,A2,A3,A6)
3. conceive, design, and fabricate a prototype utilizing a controller, sensors and actuators (A1,A2,A3,A6)

4. utilize a programmable controller that interfaces with selected sensors and actuators (A1,A2)
5. implement functional circuits on a solderless breadboard for sensing and control applications (A1,A2)
6. utilize multimeters to troubleshoot circuits and to determine the power usage of a device (A1,A2)
7. describe the specifications, operating procedures, and underlying physics for the hardware utilized (A1,A2)

8. fabricate parts using a wide range of conventional manufacturing processes (A2)
9. design and fabricate an RTD sensor using microfabrication processes (A1,A2)
10. locate materials, supplies and components in stores and from online suppliers (A2)
11. specify and purchase materials, supplies or components for projects (A2)

12. utilize Excel, Mathcad and Solid Edge to assist in engineering analysis and design (A1,A2)
13. formulate and implement sequential computer programs for sensing and control applications (A1,A2)

14. apply concepts of electricity and DC electric circuits (A1)
15. apply basic statistics to quantify and model experimental data (A1)
16. apply conservation of energy to engineering systems (A1)
17. apply basic chemistry and electrochemistry to salt water mixtures (A1)
18. apply conservation of mass to engineering systems (A1)
19. apply least squares fitting to calibrate sensors (A1)
20. apply concepts of statics to engineering systems (A1)
21. apply engineering economics to solve time value of money problems (A1)

22. utilize the specified engineering problem solving approach when completing assignments (A1,A4)
23. properly present technical information in tables and graphs (A4)
24. communicate the results of investigations and projects both orally and in writing (A4)

25. assess potential impacts of selected global and societal forces on our planet and its inhabitants (A5,A6,A7)
26. regularly attend professional society meetings and other student-led functions (A7,A8,A9)
27. work individually and collaboratively to complete course assignments (A4,A8)
28. apply creative problem solving techniques for product design (A3)
29. manage time and resources during the development of an innovative product (A10)

The outcomes of each of the three freshman courses support the curriculum objectives: ENGR 120, ENGR 121, ENGR 122

[1] National Academy of Engineering, "The Engineer of 2020." The National Academies Press, Washington DC, 2004.

College of Engineering and Science
Louisiana Tech University
Ruston, Louisiana

Project supported by the National Science Foundation's Course Curriculum and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) Program under Award No. 0618288.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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