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Skill-Centered Syllabus for Undergraduate Mechanical Engineering Education

[+] Author Affiliations
Carlos F. Rodriguez, Alvaro E. Pinilla

Universidad de Los Andes

Paper No. IMECE2006-13774, pp. 187-194; 8 pages
doi:10.1115/IMECE2006-13774
From:
  • ASME 2006 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Innovations in Engineering Education: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, November 5 – 10, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Mechanical Engineering Education, Mechanical Engineering Technology Department Heads
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4781-0 | eISBN: 0-7918-3790-4
  • Copyright © 2006 by ASME

abstract

Recent changes in higher education policy in Colombia (South America) have forced educational institutions and universities to consider reducing undergraduate engineering programs from the traditional 5 or 6 years (170 credit hours) to four years (136 credit hours). This reduction is a worldwide trend, mainly due to a lack of financial resources supporting high standards of professional education. Additionally, institutions are restructuring their curricula to adjust to the broader spectrum of career development opportunities for the graduating engineer and the new challenges faced by practicing engineers. Also, engineering education in Colombia needs to adjust to Colombia's necessities as a developing country. In response to the above-mentioned circumstances, the mechanical engineering department of the Universidad de Los Andes (UdLA) has proposed a new mechanical engineering (ME) undergraduate syllabus. This paper summarizes the process undergone by the ME department of the Universidad de Los Andes to review our syllabus and propose alternative approaches. Our new ME syllabus applies a skill-centered approach structured by four priorities: 1) the primary professional role of an engineer is in project development, 2) the engineer needs an in-depth knowledge of the sciences (physics, chemistry and biology) and mathematics; 3) the engineer also needs a general education in the social sciences and arts and, 4) the engineer should master the core concepts of mechanical engineering. These four priorities agree with the US study of the Engineer of 2020. Our restructured syllabus evenly introduces these priorities early in the undergraduate ME program. Our ME Department implemented the new syllabus for first year students in January 2006. Positive results have already started to emerge. This article provides an overview of the higher education quality assurance system in Colombia and a description of the Universidad de Los Andes new ME syllabus.

Copyright © 2006 by ASME

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