Designing and Developing the Whole Engineer

  • Author / Creator
    Jamieson, Marnie V
  • Our world is changing from social, technical, cultural, inclusivity, environmental, risk tolerance equity, and global economic perspectives. We are transitioning to different ways of knowing and working. The societal expectations of engineers and professional engineering are changing. These changes are already impacting professional engineering practice and teaching because it is engineers who interrogate complex contextual problems, frame them, and then develop, design and build solutions for local and global societies. What was acceptable ten years ago is no longer acceptable today. Projects previously approved and in progress have been cancelled or abandoned.

    This thesis reflects the underlying tension between historical engineering education and engineering work paradigms and the rapidly evolving requirements for engineering education and engineering practice. Its goal is to contribute to the development of the whole engineer in a rapidly changing education, evaluation, and practice landscape, and to help engineering students transition to become engineers in training, prepared for the future. A multipronged design-based research approach, including qualitative and quantitative investigations, was adopted to improve teaching and learning effectiveness, content, scope, resiliency, and to substantiate the efficacy of the curriculum continuous improvement process (CIP) and teaching methods/approaches suggested this work. In this work, it is accepted active learning, problem and project-based learning, and communities of practice are effective at promoting deep and contextual learning as documented by others. It is accepted, based on prior work that blended learning provides a flexible course delivery mechanism and is neutral with respect to student performance.
    A three-stage research plan was adopted to examine and enhance how a community of practice contributes to student development, the achievement of the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) graduate attributes, and the development of an innovation ecosystem. By providing targeted direction to industrial participants in a process design course community of practice, it was possible to shift the focus of the community and its motivation for participation from benchmarking competence to innovation competence that supported student innovation and leadership capacity development. Research questions related to student engagement, satisfaction, innovation, metacognition, and leadership were raised and investigated. Outcomes from first-stage exploratory studies indicated incremental improvements and informed the construction of second-phase work examining where larger improvements might be made. The second phase concerned the development and application of a graduate attribute based theoretical framework used to identify key program focus areas, and the strategic application of learning theory to course and program design. The evolving identity of an engineer and engineering work were viewed through the lens of the CEAB graduate attribute assessment process and a synthesis of engineering practice in the context of ontological, epistemological, and axiological perspectives. The third-stage examined the application and management of the continual improvement process strategy where areas for targeted improvement are identified, intervention strategies are planned, and the success of the strategies are monitored with respect to improved learning outcomes in a recursive metacognitive cycle.
    A key outcome of the application of the developed theoretical framework is the inclusion of socio-technical knowledge, metacognitive and professional skill development alongside the development of core technical knowledge. Segregated non-contextual core technical knowledge is not readily applied by students or practitioners and the development of the graduate attributes relative to metacognition and professional practice are not easily achieved without the elements of design and engineering practice permeating core courses. The implementation of designed and aligned active engineering courses and programs, which leverage the learning paradigm (behaviorist, constructivist or situative) most useful for the achievement of particular learning outcomes is offered for consideration in building a new program or revising an existing program. This represents a shift in engineering education philosophy.
    The implementation of a course and program continual improvement program is directly linked to the accreditation process, the graduate attribute outcomes, and the improvement of individual courses in the context of a holistic engineering program within a university. The process should be flexible and responsive to allow instructors to readily adapt the context of the core content to the current and future global milieu in which new engineering graduates will practice. It should facilitate the development of critical engineering practice skills such as engineering innovation, teamwork, leadership, and management and equip students for contributing to a sustainable future and not the past.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2021
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.