Assessing the Impact of Incorporating the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering as a Multidisciplinary Hands-on Design Project into the Introduction to Engineering Course
This evidence-based practice paper will discuss the effect of incorporating a National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenges themed project into the Introduction to Engineering course on first year students’ motivation, value, and perception of engineering. The NAE has identified 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering  and engineering students need to be prepared to help solve these challenges. Many institutions have responded to this and have established the Grand Challenge Scholars Program which aims to educate the next generation of engineers who will be prepared for these challenges . However, only a selected group of students are enrolled in the program and most engineering students are not provided with the opportunities to learn about the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering. A few efforts have been made in the past to incorporate the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering in the first-year curriculum and research has shown that this has increased course effectiveness and student motivation [3-5], and has fostered student critical thinking abilities and changed their awareness of engineer’s role in the global community . This work aims to observe similar effects due to the incorporation of NAE Grand Challenges into the Introduction to Engineering team design project.
At Arizona State University, the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering have been incorporated in the 2-credit Introduction to Engineering course as the subject of a multidisciplinary hands-on team design project. The three Grand Challenges that were selected for inclusion in this project were make solar energy economical, provide access to clean water, and advance personalized learning; a real world problem was formulated for each of these three areas. In the design project, student teams work through the engineering design process to design a solution to the problem, build a functional prototype of their solution, and test their prototype to demonstrate the effectiveness of their solution. Prior to the project, a jigsaw activity was used to introduce students to all of the 14 NAE Grand Challenges to provide context for the project. The impact of this novel way of incorporating the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering in the first-year curriculum on student motivation, value, and their perception of engineering and engineers’ role in the society will be assessed. A custom survey instrument based on APPLES (academic pathways of people learning engineering) , the engineering motivation survey , and the model of situational interest in classroom setting  will be administered to students enrolled in 5 sections of this course taught in the Fall 2015 semester. The survey will be administered once at the beginning of the semester and once at the end of the semester after students have completed the design project. Both quantitative and qualitative results will be analyzed and presented.
 National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenges for Engineering. http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/cms/challenges.aspx
 Grand Challenge Scholars Program. http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/14365/GrandChallengeScholarsProgram.aspx
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