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Revolutionizing Engineering Education

Department of Mechanical Engineering awarded nearly $1.9 million grant

Written by Dean Forbes
August 8, 2017

The Department of Mechanical Engineering has been awarded a $1,860,000, five-year grant from the National Science Foundation to provide the resources to revolutionize Seattle University’s mechanical engineering curriculum for undergraduates. Seattle University was one of only two private schools, and ours is one of only two mechanical engineering programs in the nation, to receive this prestigious award from the NSF’s RED grant program (Revolutionizing Engineering and Computer Science Departments.)

“Seattle U mechanical engineering students and faculty will be immersed in a cutting-edge program focused on doing engineering with engineers,” said Teodora Rutar Shuman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and department chair. “These program changes are motivated by national concerns about student persistence and engineering workplace readiness.”

Among other things, the grant will allow:

  • Revamping of the curriculum so that students will be doing real engineering from freshman year through to graduation.
  • Hiring of a new Engineer in Residence (from industry) who will engage with students and help them build relationships with practicing engineers.
  • Hosting professional engineers on campus on a regular basis, getting to know students (and vice versa), socializing, sharing what’s important to industry, etc.
  • Sponsoring “Makeathon Days” during which professional engineers will come to campus, give students a project to design, build (prototype) and test in one day.
  • Supporting faculty development in terms of curriculum and culture.
  • Immersing faculty into engineering practice through periodic industry “internships.”

The goal is to implement a new approach to teaching mechanical engineering, said Shuman, PhD. “We will bring engineering practice to students and students to engineering practice. We believe that it will have a positive impact on all students, including women and underrepresented minorities.”