A new model of engineering education

Diane Rover, professor of electrical and computer engineering, promotes new educational approaches in the classroom through a new interdisciplinary project
Diane Rover, professor of electrical and computer engineering, promotes new educational approaches in the classroom through a new interdisciplinary project

Collaborative course design will transform education and develop the next generation of engineers

Electrical and computer engineering technologies have evolved from simple electronics and computing devices to complex systems that profoundly change the world in which we live.

Designing these complex systems requires a new way of thinking, including developing social, professional and ethical responsibility.

As these advancements continue, faculty members at Iowa State are transforming the way they educate and prepare the field’s future workforce.

A team from the Colleges of Engineering, Human Sciences, Design, and Liberal Arts and Sciences are working together to create a new instructional model for course design in electrical and computer engineering.

The project, “Reinventing the Instructional and Departmental Enterprise (RIDE),” received a $2 million National Science Foundation grant to transform approaches to teaching and learning in electrical and computer engineering, especially in relation to design and systems thinking, professional skills such as leadership and inclusion, contextual concepts, and creative technologies.

The changes in educational approaches will be driven by RIDE’s cross-functional, collaborative instructional model for course design and will lead to different department structures and a more agile environment able to respond quickly to industry and social needs–and ultimately serve as a model for electrical and computer engineering departments across the country.

Another impact of the RIDE project will be broadening the participation of underrepresented students, especially undergraduate women, in the field of electrical and computer engineering. Project activities will emphasize inclusive teaching practices and learning experiences.

The RIDE project began this summer by developing strategies for managing change processes. During the first year, the project strategies will get underway, and by the second year, new versions of selected courses will be piloted. The electrical and computer engineering department will continually develop and refine department and curricular practices.

The College of Engineering is currently in the process of hiring a new chair for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. This individual will serve as the principal investigator for the RIDE project, joining 14 current members of the team that includes the College of Engineering’s Dean Sarah Rajala.

The project was awarded under an NSF activity known as “RED,” which was created to help universities transform department structures, policies, practices and curricula to enable groundbreaking changes in undergraduate engineering education.