Reality brings excitement to engineering education

Larry Leifer and Sheri Sheppard
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-4026, U.S.A.

The intellectual content and social activity of engineering product development are a constant source of surprise, ex- citement, and challenge for engineers. When our students experience product-based-learning (PBL), they experience this excitement (Brereton et al., 1995). They also have fun and perform beyond the limits required for simple grades. We, their teachers, experience these things too. Why, then, are so few students and faculty getting the PBL message? How, then, can we put the excitement back in engineering education? In part, we think this is because of three persis- tent mistakes in engineering education:
1. We focus on individual students.
2. We focus on engineering analysis versus communica- tion between engineers.
3. We fail to integrate thinking skills in engineering sci- ence and engineering practice.


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