Integrating Engineering Science and Design: A Definition and Discussion

Benjamin Linder and Woodie C. Flowers
Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue 3-445, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

An important goal of an undergraduate engineering curriculum is to facilitate students’ development of an integrated understanding of engineering. Although attempts have been made to integrate engineering science and design curricula, many students are not developing knowledge and skills that synthesize the subjects covered by these two curricula. A few observations of student performance are provided that suggest this lack of integration. A definition of integration is proposed and used to discuss possible reasons why engineering science and design curricula are not well integrated. The definition is based on the observable outcomes and behavior students produce while engaged in learning activities. Mismatched learning objectives, excessive focus on outcomes and inconsistent learning contexts are identified as causes. Finally, suggestions are given for improving engineering curricula based on this discussion.


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