Innovative Science and Engineering Higher Education

Posted on October 9, 2006  Comments (6)

CMU student with small robot

Popular Mechanics provides glimpses of 10 cutting-edge science and engineering programs in: 10 Radically Innovative College Programs. Of course Olin College is highlighted again, as they should be: Olin Engineering Education Experiment. They also spotlight: University of California, Irvine; Florida State University, Panama City; Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design; Tufts University; MIT, The Ohio State University; Louisiana State University; Art Center College of Design; and Carnegie Mellon University:

CMU’s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh is the world’s biggest academic robotics research center. Undergrads minoring in the subject take courses such as Introduction to Robotics, in which the weekly homework assignment is to build LEGO robots demonstrating that week’s concepts. “If the robot works, they get their A,” says Howie Choset, who teaches the course. But the real fun happens in the research labs, where students work on projects such as a slithering snake robot for search-and-rescue missions.

Students also participate in a dazzling array of competitions, such as the RoboCup, which pits teams of Sony AIBO robot dogs against each other in soccer. The highlight of the year is probably the Mobot Races at the CMU Spring Carnival. “Mobot is more important than the football team,” Choset says.

Tour the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Lab. One theme I see is the focus on projects – versus learning things for a test. A good thing. I would imagine some might worry it is too fun and not enough reading books 🙂 I think students will learn far more from a well crafted experiential education system. But it is a challenge to put that together well. We will all benefit from those that attempt to do so now.

Related: Improving Engineering EducationThe Future is EngineeringNSF Engineering Education GrantsCenter for Innovation in Engineering Education at PrincetonImproving Undergraduate Science EducationHarvard Elevates Engineering Profile

6 Responses to “Innovative Science and Engineering Higher Education”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » MIT Faculty Study Recommends Significant Undergraduate Education Changes
    October 16th, 2006 @ 1:44 pm

    A 2 year study by faculty provides recommendations for undergraduate education at MIT…

  2. Cutting-Edge Science and Engineering Programs « World of Engineering
    October 16th, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

    […] This post comes from the “Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog” by John Hunter.  It is about very innovative engineering programs highlighted in the latest Popular Mechanics.  Following is the quote of the post by John. […]

  3. Curious Cat: Korean Engineering Education
    February 23rd, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

    In the survey, they gave engineering graduates an “F” grade in 13 out of 14 categories. Engineering graduates themselves also said, “Education in college is not useful to our work”…

  4. CuriousCat: $100 Million for Ohio University Engineering Education
    June 25th, 2008 @ 10:38 am

    “The planning will take cues from the college’s strategic research areas: avionics; biomedical engineering, energy and the environment; and smart civil infrastructure…”

  5. Curious Cat Engineering Blog » Illinois and Olin Aim to Transform Engineering Education
    September 22nd, 2008 @ 8:05 am

    It appears Illinois is preparing to attempt to apply some of the idea piloted at Olin on a larger scale. It will be very interesting to see what happens…

  6. 2012 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education » Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog
    January 10th, 2013 @ 8:02 am

    […] have posted on the Olin College of Engineering several times. I really like what they are doing. Innovation in engineering education will pay high […]

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