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Integrating engineering into a freshman liberal arts curriculum

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2 Author(s)
Bolding, K. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng., Seattle Pacific Univ., WA, USA ; Bauman, E.

As more universities move towards a common "core" curriculum for freshmen, engineering often is pushed to the side in favor of more traditional liberal arts and science courses. We describe the integration of engineering into Seattle Pacific University's new core curriculum. A crucial part is the freshman University Seminar. It is meant to introduce the student to a liberal arts education by studying one particular subject in an introductory manner while covering basic freshman topics such as writing, public speaking and computer literacy. We designed and taught a section of University Seminar entitled "Engineering and Technology: Shaping the Matter and Mind of Society" that focuses on studying the contributions of innovators to society as well as learning what influence society has on the innovators' successes and failures. This was accompanied by several learning exercises including a project in which teams build robots from kits and modify them. The class ends with a race of all the students' robots. By teaching this class we were able to: allow freshmen to experience the basics of engineering; develop relationships with first-quarter freshman engineers; integrate engineering into the core of a "liberal arts" curriculum; and enhance the ties between engineering faculty and those in other fields. We report on the history of the relationship between engineering and the liberal arts at SPU, the formation of the engineering University Seminar and its content, and the lasting effects of teaching this seminar.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 1999. FIE '99. 29th Annual  (Volume:3 )

Date of Conference:

10-13 Nov. 1999