Whole Engineer

Educating the Whole Engineer:  Enabling Learning Partnerships for the 21st Century

The College of Engineering’s vision for education of the engineering of the 21st century includes the development of individuals not just technically skilled, but equipped to manage complexity and design solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. We expect our students to have the knowledge base and commitment to “make a difference” in the world and to make difficult decisions faced with great uncertainty in a very complex and open-ended system, where there are multiple stakeholders with diverse perspectives and competing values.  We call this vision, Michigan Engineering Plus.  Traditional engineering education has focused on the delivery of knowledge at the expense of the development of the capacity for applying this knowledge to make judgments. Because engineers are continuously called upon to make judgments related to problems in complex systems, it is critical that we engage students in the development of an internal voice that provides them with the capacity to define their beliefs, identities and social relationships, guided by their own visions and responsible for their own experiences and decisions.

To address this need, the College of Engineering proposes an overhaul to Engineering 110 “The Engineering Profession” class, as part of the integration of this philosophy and an effort to educate the “Whole Engineering”.  While we have begun to successfully engage students in this educational philosophy through academic advising and co-curricular activities, in order to be truly transformational, the philosophy must permeate our engineering classrooms. Engineering 110 “The Engineering Profession” provides a gateway to do this and has the potential to serve as a foundation for integrating engaged learning across the entire engineering curriculum.  As the result of a redesign exercise conducted by an engineering senior design team, the course has begun to make use of a peer mentoring structure that also engages 15 upper division undergraduates as peer facilitators for in-class discussion.  Our vision is to advance the curriculum further to intentionally provide students greater opportunity to explore their identities, values and goals, and the broad educational opportunities provided to them through the unique learning environments that we call the Michigan Difference.

Project Team:

Lorelle Meadows, College of Engineering
Stacie Edington, College of Engineering