New Curriculum: Educating Global Leaders

Engineering and the place engineering takes in society is evolving rapidly. The systems an engineering design is expected to incorporate are increasing.  Similarly, the roles an engineer may play throughout his or her career have expanded. This affects how our graduates will be employed as well as the set of skills they will be expected to bring to the job. Looking toward educating engineering leaders able to work within a global context, ECE is making some exciting changes to the curriculum.

The core of these changes includes:

  • Integration of fundamental theoretical concepts with projects that apply these concepts.
  • Problem-solving that supports the students’ ability to incorporate more complex systems throughout their program
  • Supporting integrated learning in a number of ways: in and outside the classroom, individually and in groups, in projects and laboratories.

This integration of theory and application, a linking of how and why, reinforces both. As an example, concepts in vector calculus and electromagnetics are closely related and the learning of these concepts is interdependent. These ideas have previously been taught in two separate courses that are now brought together, allowing concepts to relate to each other directly.

The faculty have carefully considered how students learn and what the best strategies for grasping different concepts are.  With increased integration of course material, content that is presented in lecture can be reinforced and expanded through a careful linking of small group work and laboratories. Conversely, questions that are confronted in laboratory settings can be explored in classroom settings.

Throughout their program students will be asked to address open-ended problems that do not resolve to a single solution. Benefits and risks will have to be assessed. Students will also follow their chosen solution all the way through to resolution.

The new curriculum will be implemented in the second year program in 2011. Changes in the third and fourth year program will slowly be introduced over the next two years.