Cleveland State University [d] NCA 2000 Self-Study Report [d]

   
   
   

Final Self-Study Report Chapter 4: 15 Aug 2000

FENN COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

Accomplishing Educational Goals And Contributing To The University’s Mission

The College of Engineering offers five B.S. degrees in Chemical, Civil, Electrical, Industrial, and Mechanical Engineering, and in Electronic Engineering Technology and Mechanical Engineering Technology. The five engineering departments offer master’s degrees in their disciplines, and all five participate in the College’s Doctor of Engineering program. In addition the College offers M.S. degrees in Engineering Mechanics, and in Environmental Engineering.

Minimum standards for breadth of content and depth of knowledge required for engineering degree programs are set by the Engineering Accreditation Commission (EAC) or the Technology Accreditation Commission (TAC) of the American Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). All five undergraduate engineering programs, and the electronic engineering technology program have been accredited by ABET. The College recently added two faculty members to the Engineering Technology program, and will seek accreditation for Mechanical Engineering Technology over the next two years.

ABET teams visited the College in 1992 and, again, in 1998. As a result of those visits, the College made number of curricular changes not only to strengthen basic engineering education, but also to broaden the exposure of engineering students to social and cultural values, including course work in economics, ethics, and ecological issues as they relate to the engineering profession, and business and industry. The ABET evaluators reported positively on the extent and quality of faculty-student interaction, the maturity of the student body, the excellent facilities, including laboratories, and high quality of engineering programs.

As strongly promoted by ABET nationwide, the College has incorporated engineering design throughout the curriculum. Sophomore-level engineering courses now require students to work in teams on real-world applications of their course material. Students are introduced to the concepts of open-ended problems, ill-defined problems, and alternative solutions, and to the need to solve problems on the basis of information and principles from more than one course or discipline. With the aid of computer software, some of the lower-level mathematics courses are taught with special emphasis on engineering applications.

The conversion to semesters gave the College an opportunity to reassess its programs, and to update all aspects of its curriculum to meet the changing needs of the engineering disciplines and industry. ABET evaluators commented favorably on the quality of advising that contributed to the smooth transition to semesters.

Interaction and close student-faculty relationships are among the College’s main goals, and a number of opportunities are provided for continuous and rather intense interaction between students and faculty and between students themselves. The College’s relatively low student-to-faculty ratio of 11:1 encourages intellectual discussion and interaction. Each undergraduate program includes a capstone senior design project in which students work in small groups on one project throughout the term. The professor meets with the student group on a regular basis, and works with the students to develop the project. Each program also requires several laboratory courses in which students work together in teams of three-five to do the laboratory work and prepare reports.

Interaction also provides opportunities for students to participate in research. Many students, undergraduate as well as graduate, work as research assistants in faculty projects for pay or for credit in technical elective courses. Interaction occurs practically on a daily basis, and students make substantial contributions to the work, as attested to by several co-authored papers that have been published in referred journals. In addition, research seminars, colloquia and Speaker’s programs give students the opportunity to interact with their faculty and guest speakers from outside the College.

Students work with faculty and professional engineers on projects at the Advanced Manufacturing Center. Many students enter engineering design competitions which require creative solutions to engineering problems through research and application. The student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Aerospace recently developed a creative design for a battery-powered airplane. Electronic engineering technology students design and construct fully automated robotic vehicles that use on-board computers and light and sound sensors to guide the vehicles around an obstacle course. This activity has generated so much interest that students have formed a robotics club with its own web page. The College is a member of the Ohio Space Grant Consortium, which provides annual scholarships of up to $5,000 to four students to work on research projects under the guidance of a faculty advisor.

The College employs a full-time staff member as Manager of Student programs to assist student organizations and to oversee funding of student groups. The Engineering Student Enrichment Program, financed by alumni, provides funds for student groups to attend professional conferences, to host meetings, and to participate in competitions. Another full-time staff professional serves a Director of Undergraduate Affairs and Student Relations member. The Director advises incoming transfer students, and offers information and assistance for students to handle the University’s routines and solve problems.

The ABET accreditation process insures that undergraduate programs will be peer reviewed in a thoroughly professional manner by external evaluators. The College conducts internal peer review through a system of faculty committees who have responsibility for teaching appropriate course content. Each engineering science course has an oversight committee. Each department has a curriculum committee. The Undergraduate Affairs Committee and the Assistant Dean oversee curricular matters.

The College’s goals for undergraduate programs include strengthening computer education by hiring additional faculty, upgrading laboratories and curriculum, and offering a Bachelor of Computer Engineering. The College also plans to strengthen the manufacturing area within Industrial Engineering by hiring a senior-level person with manufacturing experience as chair of the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering. Other plans call for putting greater emphasis on cooperative education, creating a course on engineering design and creativity, and stepping up efforts to recruit more high-quality students.

The College succeeds in its goals of educating students so that they can find gainful employment as engineers when they graduate. A recent sample survey by the Placement Office found employment rates of 100 percent for industrial engineers, 92 percent for electrical engineers, 91 percent for civil engineers, 88 percent for mechanical engineers, and 80 for chemical engineers. Salaries ranged from between $28,300 on average for civil engineers to $44,000 for chemical engineers.

The College’s seven master’s degrees and its doctoral degree are all offered as evening programs to conform to the schedules of engineers working in local industries and institutions. The vast majority of graduate students attend part-time. The fact that most of the engineering students work locally links their firms with engineering faculty and provides opportunities for collaborative research and topics for theses and dissertations.

The engineering doctorate, the D.Eng., is the only one of its kind in Ohio. Its focus is on educating engineers to conduct applied research, bring the results of basic research to the development of products, materials, and new technologies, and perform prototype testing and evaluation for commercial viability. While the degree contains most of the features of the traditional Ph.D., it differs by emphasizing applied research, and development and testing of prototypes. The degree is granted in recognition of high achievement in scholarship, and the ability to apply engineering fundamentals to the solution of complex technical problems.

Consistent with the objectives and focus of the doctoral program, most of the graduates 72 percent have chosen to remain in industrial positions or take jobs in industry. A small portion seven percent strike out on their own as independent engineers or founders of their own firms. The remaining 21 percent have taken academic positions, indicating that the program’s graduates have good academic credentials as well as technical training.

A valuable by-product of the doctoral program is that it has served to stimulate and promote partnerships in applied research with local companies. Students conduct their dissertation research in off-campus, applied industrial settings. The companies, who benefit from the research, assign experienced engineers as technical support to help the students complete their work successfully. Thus, technology transfer is obtained seamlessly, and both academic and industry partners benefit, as does the regional economy.

The College’s plans for enhancing graduate education and research include strengthening its relationship with NASA Glenn Research Center, and working with leaders of local industry. In a major undertaking, the College’s Visiting Committee established a University-industry proprietary rights form that will ensure easier access to industrial internships by doctoral students. The College is also strengthening its co-op program for undergraduate students by working with the Career Services Department, alumni, and industry partners.

 


... back top next ...

 
NCA Commission on Institutions of Higher Education Logo Link[d]
North Central Association
of Colleges and Schools
Commission on Institutions
of Higher Education
 
      


© 1998-2000. The NCA Self-Study Committee. All Rights Reserved.
Send comments and questions about this page to ssc@csuohio.edu.
Cleveland State University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity institution.