Mixing Writing with First-Year Engineering: An Unstable Solution?
Introducing engineering students to the rewards and responsibilities of being an engineer has long been a goal of engineering education. ABET specifies that in addition to technical competence, students should have an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility, an ability to communicate effectively, and a knowledge of contemporary issues. At WPI, we attempted to achieve these goals by designing a first-year, one-credit course that would engage students actively in the chemical engineering profession while increasing their understanding of writing as a problem-solving tool and means of reflection rather than isolated activities for recording engineered solutions. Course success was measured using several evaluation tools, including focus groups conducted by an external evaluator, an external evaluation of the portfolios, and our own assessment of the students' portfolios.