Project Summary
 

The purpose of the proposed Mechanical Engineering Design Education Workshop is to establish a long-term, mutually beneficial collaboration between university-level design engineering educators in the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and the United States of America (USA). The workshop is structured to combine the considerable engineering resources of both the RSA and the USA, towards the resolution of significant educational needs that exist in both countries.

The workshop serves to benefit educators in the RSA through a series of presentations and interactive sessions by the USA representatives on the following topics:

1. Current practices in graduate-level teaching of engineering design.

2. State-of-the-Art use of multimedia in engineering education, including distance learning and real-time computer usage in the classroom.

Presently, in the RSA there is a keen interest in graduate level teaching techniques and curriculum, as the Universities and Technikons are experiencing a rapid growth in the demand for graduate and postgraduate programs, particularly in engineering. Also, usage of multimedia technology in mainstream engineering education is in the nascent stages; as they implement new technological developments in multimedia, RSA institutions are very interested in learning how other academic institutions across the globe are employing multimedia to meet the needs of growing student populations. Educators in the USA can provide key information to assist their RSA colleagues achieve objectives for expansion and/or enhancement of postgraduate programs, and for the practical implementation of various multimedia elements in engineering curriculum.

The workshop serves to benefit educators in the USA through a series of presentations and interactive sessions by the RSA representatives on the following topics:

1. Current practices in undergraduate-level teaching, specifically focused on mechanisms for the introduction of design engineering course elements in the freshman year.

2. Effectiveness of the early introduction of design engineering course elements, with respect to higher retention of engineering students, and enhanced employability of engineering graduates in industry.

Since October 1990, universities in the USA that are participating in the National Science Foundation's Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Education and Leadership (ECSEL) have been endeavoring to increase the diversity of engineering graduates by transformation of the undergraduate engineering curriculum to provide earlier introduction of engineering courses. ECSEL's curriculum transformation is expected to both increase student retention rates in engineering programs, and to increase the effectiveness of engineering education in meeting the rapidly changing needs of industry for skilled engineering graduates. Educators in the RSA can provide key information to assist their USA colleagues, since their standard undergraduate engineering curriculum exposes students to design in all years of study.

The proposed Mechanical Engineering Design Education Workshop assembles a diverse group of cross-disciplinary engineering educators, industry representatives and postdoctoral and/or junior investigators.  The three-day workshop, to be hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa, is planned for July, 1998. Day 1 of the workshop concentrates on Technical Topics, with paper presentations and discussions on mechanical engineering design curriculum and advances in mechanical design research and technology.  Special emphasis is to be placed on undergraduate teaching methodologies and effectiveness measures, implementation of multimedia in engineering curriculum, and graduate-level design engineering curriculum.  Day 2 provides site visits to share information and solidify the participation of selected RSA Universities, Technikons and manufacturing facilities.  Day 3 concentrates on Collaborative Opportunities, with panel discussions to identify common technical topics of interest among faculty and industry participants, and wrap-up sessions to list follow-up actions with corresponding senior investigators. Depending on the workshop results, follow-up action items may include industry-focused student and/or faculty exchange programs.

Dissemination of the results of the Mechanical Engineering Design Education Workshop is to be accomplished through the publication of Workshop Proceedings, and the creation of an interactive World Wide Web site that summarizes both the workshop proceedings, and details the ongoing progress of workshop follow-up action items.

 Return to Workshop Homepage