Engineering Economics International Experience for
Community College Students
Our Community College’s engineering program added the Engineering Economics course to its curriculum during the fall semester of 2013, in order to coincide with the addition of six Associate degrees in numerous engineering fields—some which required the new course for program completion. The Texas Board of Higher Education added Engineering Economics to the Lower Division Academic Course Guide Manual (ACGM) during the fall semester of 2011 and, although the course is generally included within the schedule of an undergraduate’s junior year (within a four-year program), our college offers the course during student’s sophomore year.
Our engineering program has experienced a strong, steadfast growth since its reboot in 2009. This sustainable growth is partially credited to the department’s promotion of real-world experiences, which enable our students to participate in undergraduate-level research and study-abroad opportunities that set our engineering programs apart from other institutions. One of these opportunities involves the incorporation of a course section of Engineering Economics which includes a highly structured, eighteen-day study trip to Australia and New Zealand, which took place in May of 2015. Through this experience, students personally experienced extensive learning opportunities, highlighting the benefits of study-abroad experiences through increased cultural awareness, a refined global perspective, and an enhanced ability to navigate the changing global landscape. During the fall of 2013, one of our strongest four-year transfer partners, with which we share an articulation agreement, instituted an International Experience Initiative requiring each engineering student to participate in an international experience while enrolled as an undergraduate—a concept that our Community College agrees is a necessary step toward producing the next generation of engineers.
The Engineering Economics course in AU/NZ builds on the foundations of an already-established program at our Community College—previously organized by our Economics faculty and designed to enrich any student striving for Macroeconomics or Microeconomics credit. Besides the aforementioned benefits of having an experience of this magnitude, the course-specific objectives of the trip highlighted the international aspects of Engineering Economics and the relationship between course concepts and real-world situations, both domestic and abroad. Most of the course content was delivered prior to departure to enable students to focus their attention toward case studies involving important landmarks, international corporations, and site-specific environmental issues abroad. All students participated in the experience, not only by visiting interesting places and hearing about their history and relevance, but by working on short case studies, engaging in discussions about the economic consequences of alternatives not typically seen in the U.S, and through various methods in which they were expected to document their experience. Honors College participants were additionally tasked with conducting their required academic cooperatives in which they developed case studies in a topic of their choosing, pertaining to the trip.
Although the experience was brief, anecdotal evidence leads us to believe the expected outcomes associated with this international travel component successfully enhanced the course’s learning objectives, while additionally contributing to a student’s broad understanding of the international components impacting many contemporary economic factors; providing a unique experience with case studies while in the field using real data for real-world applications within the confines of cultural awareness and global perspectives.
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