An Optimal Engineering Education: The BSE at a Liberal Arts College
W. Wayne Wentzheimer, Gayle E. Ermer, Jennifer J. VanAntwerp,
How best do we educate an engineer whose career could last over 40 years? This
paper examines the structure of the BSE program at Calvin College, a comprehensive
liberal arts college in the Midwest. This engineering program emphasizes
breadth, contextualization, and normative design.
While engineering analytical skills are important, good design requires good communication, critical evaluation, creativity, and integrative multidisciplinary problem-solving approaches – skills that a liberal arts foundation provide. Integrative design implies normative design, i.e., design with ethical considerations intrinsic to the entire process.
The emphasis on broad fundamentals and normative design is not without challenges. This approach tends to generate programs that require more courses, are less flexible, and are less recognized than more specialized programs. We conclude by addressing the challenges and opportunities faced by our and similar programs.
W. Wayne Wentzheimer, Gayle E. Ermer, Jennifer J. Van Antwerp, and Steven H. VanderLeest, “An Optimal Engineering Education: The BSE at a Liberal Arts College,” Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, June, 2004.
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