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John Jackman, Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering, (515) 294-0126
Dennis Smith, Engineering Communications, (515) 294-0267
Skip Derra, News Service, (515) 294-4917


AMES, Iowa -- Faculty in Iowa State University's colleges of Engineering and Education have received a $100,000 National Science Foundation grant to research and develop new education methods for undergraduate engineers.

The project is an integral part of the department of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering's (IMSE) ongoing initiative in enterprise computing and information engineering. A recently announced $1.2 million software gift of a manufacturing execution system from Cargill Inc., will be incorporated into the effort.

The project will explore the problem-solving paths students take when performing engineering activities. A better understanding of these paths is likely to result in better performance of engineering activities, which companies look for in new graduates.

"We are going beyond traditional engineering cognitive skills to help students develop better meta-cognitive skills," said Sigurdur Olafsson, assistant professor of industrial engineering. Olafsson will lead a team of five faculty and five students from both colleges.

"This project addresses one of higher education's greatest challenges -- how to develop curricula that create coherent and integrated experiences leading to more effective student learning," adds Mary Huba of ISU's department of educational leadership and policy studies.

Ultimately, the project will produce a set of inter-related active learning modules based on real-world scenarios. These modules will emphasize the use of information technology in the engineering problem-solving process, while linking content among current courses in industrial engineering. For each scenario, students will define goals, formulate problems, and develop solution strategies while mastering course material.

"This is a really great opportunity from the students' perspectives," says Scott Adams, an undergraduate student in industrial engineering. "We're able to develop more conceptual problem-solving skills to complement our engineering background."


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Published by: University Relations,
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