A New BSE Under the New ABET Criteria
at George Fox University

 

John R. Natzke

Math, Computer Science, and Engineering Department
George Fox University
Newberg, OR

ABSTRACT

For more than a decade George Fox University has offered a dual degree, 3/2 engineering program. The Math, Computer Science, and Engineering Department is currently in the proposal process for a full engineering major to be in-house with electrical and mechanical concentrations, culminating in a BS in Engineering (BSE) degree from George Fox. The purpose of this paper is to present the objectives and curriculum of the new BSE designed to meet the ABET Criteria 2000 in light of the necessary balance of the liberal arts, Christian faith, and technical experiences of the engineering student at a Christian university. We have the advantage in meeting the new Criteria of a starting-from-scratch approach, but are equally disadvantaged in that no precedents have yet been set. Comparative studies of the 21 BSE programs and of the engineering programs of Christian schools currently accredited by ABET are included. The goal of this paper will be to stimulate discussion among those interested in these topics.

Introduction

In May of 1998 the Math, Computer Science, and Engineering Department began the formal process of proposing that an engineering major be offered by George Fox University (GFU). The program would build on the dual degree program currently in place for more than a decade. The four-year degree offered by GFU would be a Bachelor of Science in Engineering (BSE), with two concentrations: electrical and mechanical engineering. With the desire to offer a top-notch program, the department indicated it would seek national accreditation by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). As of this writing, the proposal process is almost complete, awaiting final approval by the Board of the University.

This paper is a presentation of the engineering program developed for GFU. The primary focus is on the curriculum, especially in light of the fact that the program will be examined for accreditation under the new ABET criteria, namely Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC2000). The general, ABET accredited BSE degree is currently offered by 21 other US schools in the United States, seven of which are members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). In developing the BSE, a comparative study was done between a selected number of these schools, and the data are presented herein.

First a brief overview of the current dual degree program is discussed, since it is acting as the backbone of the new major. Then the features and curriculum of the proposed BSE are presented, including comparisons between other engineering programs. Finally the EC2000 criteria pertinent to the complete curriculum are discussed.

Building on the 3/2

Students pursuing a dual degree in engineering spend three years at George Fox, completing their core engineering courses and most of their general education requirements, and then spend two more years at the cooperating university, taking mostly the upper division engineering courses in their particular area of interest. Thus the ""3/2"" program brings them two degrees, a BS in Applied Science (BSAS) from GFU, and a BSxE degree from the other school, where x would be E for Electrical, M for Mechanical, etc. Credit hours are transferred between the two schools to achieve the two degrees, as shown in Fig. 1 below.

One of the motivating factors in pursuing the full engineering major for GFU is that many students regret leaving after only three years. In that time, students generally love GFU and do not really want to get on to another school-they have established friendships, community, athletic commitments, etc. From a recruiting point of view, the Admissions office finds the BSE very attractive, in that it is a much ""cleaner"" program to explain to prospective students, as evidenced by Fig. 1.

Along with numerous other rationale for the new major, one of the challenges was to discover how it would fit into the broader mission of the University. The BSAS of the 3/2 program is not nearly as extensive and rigorous as an engineering major would be, and it could not be assumed that the presence of the former justified the inclusion of the latter, especially since GFU is primarily seen as a liberal arts school. However, one does not have to look far to see the inclusiveness of Christian higher education. The GFU Mission Statement is as follows:

To demonstrate the meaning of Jesus Christ by offering a caring educational community in which each individual may achieve the highest intellectual and personal growth, and by participating responsibly in our world''s concerns.

Given the predominance of technology in today''s world and the many problems its advantages bring us (need I say-Y2K?), the emphasized phrase in the above statement reveals that the possibility exists for including the proposed engineering major at GFU, as evidenced by its recent approval by the faculty. The issue was stated this way in Rationale #5 of the proposal:

Although the highly technical field of engineering is often perceived as being value/issue neutral, it is far from it, given the impact technology has on our daily lives- socially, politically, economically, culturally, and spiritually. The BSE would provide GFU the opportunity to apply its integration of faith and learning to the fields of electrical and mechanical engineering, thereby participating responsibly in our world''s concerns through these disciplines.

And may it be done with God''s guidance!

The New BSE

The diagram of Fig. 2 is indicative of the many loops that are part of designing an engineering program-certainly more than the Two Loops of EC2000. Under the influence of the University mission, the primary curriculum requirements to be balanced were the engineering science and design, the liberal arts or humanities, and the math and natural sciences. Numerous other issues exist, of course, and a few are included in the diagram. In general, once the math and natural science requirements were established, the primary balancing act was between the engineering and liberal arts courses along with the total degree hours, which went beyond the 126 semester hours required by GFU for all other undergraduate degrees. Detailed results are presented in what follows.

First, the basic features of the proposed BSE at GFU are as follows:

A few comments on these features: An example of a course that could be taught with a top-down approach is Microwaves and RF-start with the big picture of a device, say a cellular phone, and introduce the concepts needed for analysis and design as the semester goes on, i.e. with a just-in-time methodology. This helps the students to break out of the otherwise linear, chronological methodologies of engineering coursework. What I personally get most excited about from this list is the opportunity for mission/serve engineering projects-to see engineering students finding practical solutions to those in need, giving them an excellent experience outside of academe in step with the mission of the University.

The additions and changes to the curriculum of the current program are indicated in Table 1 below. Four current engineering courses are modified and twenty-one new engineering courses are added to fill out the junior and senior year. Two new full-time engineering faculty will be hired-one mechanical, one electrical-and one new full-time physics faculty. Three additional faculty offices and three additional lab spaces will be required, as well as the necessary equipment. The proposed four-year phase-in is shown in the chart below.

The curriculum was designed with ABET''s minimum requirements in mind: one year of math and natural science, one and a half years of engineering science. However, the ""old"" criteria were also considered since the three hundred some ABET accredited programs will not suddenly change come the year 2000; see Table 2 for the curriculum listed by these subject areas.

The flexibility of the new criteria is certainly attractive to Christian institutions that typically require a larger general education component given the addition of bible and religion courses. The general education requirements of the BSAS were modified slightly and increased by four hours for the proposed BSE (refer to Table 3). The total hours are 54, compared to 57 hours typically required for other degrees at GFU. To give a somewhat objective perspective, a comparison of general education credit hours (excluding the math and natural science) with other engineering programs within the CCCU is given in Table 4. Some liberty was taken in calculating the hours for each category given the wide variety of definitions across the board. The credit hours required by GFU are similar to the other schools, with the exception of Messiah College, and the percentage of the total curriculum would be higher than most given a lower total hour requirement.

1st

  • Two current engineering courses are modified to offer the freshman sequence Egr Principles I & II.

2nd

  • One new course is added, two current courses are modified to offer both freshman and sophomore courses.
  • Begin offering all core engineering courses on yearly basis. 
  • Begin purchase of electronics lab equipment. 

3rd

  • Two new engineering faculty are on board.
  • Ten new courses are added to complete the junior year. 
  • Purchase remainder of electronics equipment.  Begin purchase of mechanics lab equipment. 

4th

  • One new physics faculty is on board to take over all general physics courses.
  • The remaining ten new courses are added to fill out the senior year.

The engineering major is listed in Table 5. All students take the core courses in the first two years, with the exception of Robotics Control Systems, taken the end of the junior year. Then the electrical and mechanical concentrations begin the junior year. Staying with our current tradition in the 3/2 program, one or two course related design projects will be assigned per semester starting the freshman year, in addition to the senior design sequence. For ongoing curriculum development, an Industrial Advisory Committee will be established for direct input from the marketplace.

Table 6 provides another comparison with other programs; the engineering, math, and natural science requirements of the BSE are compared to those of the other seven CCCU schools that offer a BSE. Two schools require significantly more math and natural science courses, and one requires significantly more engineering courses. Otherwise GFU and the other schools show very similar numbers; the differences are mostly due to GFU having the smallest number of total degree hours required out of the eight schools.

The total hours for the proposed BSE come to 129, compared to the 126 hours required by GFU for other bachelor''s degrees.  This, in addition to the discrepancy in the general education requirements, is due to the large number of required engineering (61 hours) and math and natural science (32 hours) courses. The math and natural science alone almost constitute another major (in fact, students in our current program can obtain a math minor for the 19 hours of math courses they''re required to take). This led to the collection of data shown in Table 7. As expected, most engineering degrees require significantly more credit hours to complete than degrees for other majors. However, some schools have already been moving in the direction of downsizing their curriculum well below 130 hours while staying within the ABET guidelines. This is not as simple for a Christian, liberal arts school, which, while maintaining at least the same humanities requirements of the state schools, also requires eight to ten hours of bible and religion, central to our ethos. Thus, our program could be compared to, say, that of Washington University which requires 120 degree hours of its students. At this time, we are satisfied with the 129 hours (though there has been discussion of adding another two-hour course to the requirements, History and Philosophy of Science).

The New ABET Criteria

We have had the advantage in designing this program virtually from scratch, with no major curricular modifications or changes in mindset with regard to the ABET criteria. Coincidentally we are equally disadvantaged in that no precedents have yet been set for a new program to come completely under EC2000 for its initial accreditation. Be that as it may, we proceed with trust in God for what He has guided us to pursue.

The primary change that has been emphasized in EC2000 is the requirement of a more rigorous assessment process of the program outcomes-the second of the Two Loops of EC2000. We are not yet on that loop, but I include the Criterion #3 here to indicate that the proposed BSE certainly covers the requirements, albeit in theory:

Program Outcomes and Assessment

Engineering programs must demonstrate that their graduates have:

    1. an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
    2. an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret data
    3. an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs
    4. an ability to function on multi-disciplinary teams
    5. an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
    6. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
    7. an ability to communicate effectively
    8. the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global and societal context
    9. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
    10. a knowledge of contemporary issues
    11. an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.

These criteria are not necessarily all new to ABET, since the conventional criteria contain most of these components implicitly if not also explicitly. What I find uniquely interesting in this list are items d, f- j, the so-called Soft Six, that they comprise more than half the list. These components are not only inherent in curricula of liberal arts institutions, but Christian schools as well have much to contribute, especially in offering a Christian worldview on items f, h, and j.

As with any design, this process of curriculum development is certainly open-ended. Before we begin the program a year from now, much tweaking will likely occur. But by building on the 3/2 program and with the expertise of our two engineering faculty, we feel we have a solid, professional engineering program which will meet the new ABET criteria. And we look forward to servicing students and teaching them to participate responsibly in our world''s concerns. May God receive the glory of our efforts.

 

Fig. 1. Credit hour comparison of the dual degree program and the proposed BSE.

 

 

Fig. 2. The N loops of Engineering program design.

Table 1. Credit hour comparison of the BS in Applied Science and the proposed BS in Engineering.

BS

Applied Science

BS

Engineering

GENERAL ED

Bible & Religion

6

8

Communication

6

6

HHP

2

2

Humanities

11

11

Sciences

22

24

Globalization

3

3

50

54

MAJOR

Math

9

6

Physics

8

8

Engineering Core

15

27

EE/ME Concentrations

7

34

Transfer (engineering)

11

0

50

75

ELECTIVES

Free

6

0

Transfer (engineering)

20

0

26

0

Totals:

126

129

 

Table 2. The proposed BSE listed by ""old"" ABET subject areas.

Engineering Science -

55

Core

21

EE/ME Concentration

34

Math & Natural Science -

32

Humanities & Social Science -

28

English Proficiency -

6

Computer Based Experience -

4

Other Requirements -

4

Total:

129

Table 3. Comparison of the general education requirements for the BS in Applied Science and the proposed BS in Engineering.

BS

Applied Science

BS

Engineering

GENERAL ED

Bible & Religion

6

8

Fr Composition

3

3

Intro to Communication

3

3

HHP

2

2

Fine Arts

2

2

History

3

3

Literature

3

3

Ethics

3

3

Calculus I, II, & III

11

11

Gen Chemistry

8

4

Nat Sci Elective

0

3

Psych or Sociology

3

3

Economics

0

3

Globalization

3

3

Totals:

50

54

 

 

 

Table 4. Comparison of non-math/natural science GED requirements for selected CCCU schools with engineering programs.

GFU

(BSE)

Calvin (BSE)

Dordt (BSE)

LeTourneau

(BSE)

Messiah (BSE)

SPU (BSEE)

Bible/Religion/Philosophy

11

12

12

12

12

10

Communications

6

6

6

6

6

2

Health

2

3

3

4

3

2

Arts

2

3

3

3

3

6

Literature

3

6

3

3

3

7

Social Science/History

9

6

9

6

6

10

Globalization

3

0

0

0

6

0

Language

0

0

3

0

6

0

Totals:

36

36

39

34

45

37

Total degree hrs:

129

136

140

139

134

136

Table 5. The Engineering Major.

Math & Physics -

14

Differential Eq

3

Math Elective

3

Physics I & II (Calc)

8

Engineering -

61

Core:

Egr Principles I & II

6

Statics & Dynamics

4

Digital Logic Design

4

Materials Science

3

Thermodynamics I

3

Circuits I

4

Robotics Control Systems

3

27

EE Concentration:

Circuits II

3

Electronics I & II

7

Electromagnetics

3

Signals & Systems

3

Microprocessors

4

Senior Design I & II

5

3 of the following 4:

Integrated Circuit Design (3)

Microwaves & RF (3)

Communications (3)

Power Systems (3)

9

34

ME Concentration:

Strength of Materials

3

Thermodynamics II

3

Fluids

3

K & D of Mechanisms

3

Machine Design

4

Heat Transfer

4

Senior Design I & II

5

3 of the following 4:

Fuels & Combustion (3)

Acoustics/Noise Control (3)

Materials Proc. & Man. (3)

Vibrations of Machinery (3)

9

34

Total:

75

 

Table 6. Comparison of Engineering, Math, and Natural Science requirements for CCCU schools with BSE programs.

ABET*

GFU

Calvin

Dordt

Geneva

John Brown

LeTourneau

Messiah

Oral Roberts

Engineering

48

61

63

65

60

71

67

59

63

Core**

27

25

29

23

47

44

32

19

Concentration***

34

38

36

37

24

23

27

44

Math & Nat. Sci.

32

32

34

33

38

30

38

30

30

Math

17

19

17

19

18

20

18

18

Natural Science

15

15

16

19

12

18

12

12

Totals:

80

93

97

98

98

101

105

89

93

Total degree hrs:

X

129

136

140

137

136

139

134

136

*For 16 hr semesters

**Includes computer programming

***Includes Senior Design

 

Table 7. Total credit hour comparison of BS degrees in engineering and degrees of other majors for selected schools.

Engineering Majors

Other Majors

BSE Schools

Baylor Univ.

141

124

Calvin College*

136

124

Dordt College*

140

122

Geneva College*

137

136

Grand Valley State Univ.

138

124

John Brown Univ.*

136

124

LeTourneau Univ.*

139

126

Messiah College*

134

126

Oral Roberts Univ.*

137

128

BSxE Schools

Cedarville College*

146

130

Colorado State Univ.

129

128

Michigan Tech

131

124

Oregon State Univ.

128

120

Portland State Univ.

132

120

Seattle Pacific Univ.*

136

120

U. of Michigan

128

128

U. of Portland

136

120

U. of Washington

120

120

Wash. Univ., St. Louis

120

120

*CCCU member

 


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