A Unified Framework for Engineering Science: Principles and Sample Curricula


A Unified Framework for Engineering Science: Principles and Sample Curricula

Don Richards, Louis Everett, Phillip Cornwell, Jeff Froyd, Walt Haisler, Dimitris Lagoudas,


Engineering sciences were first formalized in the Grinter Report [1,2] and have been a foundation of engineering education for the past fifty years.  Traditionally, engineering sciences have been taught in separate courses with each course focused on one of the engineering sciences: statics, dynamics, circuits, thermodynamics, and fluid mechanics.  A different approach, teaching the engineering sciences within a unified framework, was pioneered at Texas A&M University and has since been adopted not only there, but also at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.  The unified framework provides a common framework for understanding basic physical laws, e.g., conservation of mass, momentum, energy, and charge, and the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and applying these laws to development of mathematical models of engineering systems.  The framework is built upon four concepts: 1) system, boundary and surroundings, 2) property, 3) conserved property, and 4) accounting for the exchange of properties across the boundary of a system.  After presenting the concepts for the framework, the paper explores three different curricula that have been developed in which students study engineering science using the framework.  Assessment results are presented for two of the three sample curricula.

I. Introduction

II. Conservation and Accounting Framework

III. Curriculum Structure: Texas A&M Four-Course Structure

IV. Curriculum Structure: Texas A&M Five-Course Structure

V. Curriculum Structure: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Sophomore Engineering Curriculum

VI. Example Problems

VII. Student Performance/Faculty Reactions

VIII. Conclusions