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College of Engineering plans to implement design minor for fall 2014

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AUGUST 21, 2013

The UC Berkeley College of Engineering is planning to create a new minor in engineering design aimed at giving students more opportunities for hands-on education and experience.

The minor, which is expected to be implemented in fall 2014, will be an expansion of Engineering 10, a hands-on course that focuses on design and analysis. Jacobs Hall, a planned engineering building that will be home to a collaborative design and innovation institute, will be completed in fall 2015 and will complement the minor.

Karen Rhodes, executive director of communications at the College of Engineering, has seen an increased demand from students for experiential education. Most engineers usually become involved in project-oriented learning no sooner than their junior or senior year, she said.

“There’s a real thirst for design experiences,” Rhodes said, “We want to be able to offer students opportunities for projects in design throughout their entire time here.”

UC Berkeley sophomore Stephanie Djidjev, an electrical engineering and computer sciences major, completed a design-based internship this summer in engineering, at which she created a program to detect building damage.

“We were placed in groups of different majors, like mechanical engineering and EECS,” Djidjev said of her internship. “(Lab directors) stressed how important it is to be able to work with people outside your major, especially when applying to graduate school.”

Djidjev said that a design minor would allow engineering students to collaborate.

Dean of the College of Engineering S. Shankar Sastry, who is heading the creation of the minor, said students from both his college and the Haas School of Business have expressed interest in being involved in the creation process.

The program’s requirements will likely include two or three core classes and several design projects.

The classes and projects required for the minor will be taught with the instructor acting as a “coach on the sideline,” Sastry said, and faculty members have already displayed interest in teaching design classes.

“We want the teachers to work with the students so that the students do the learning,” he said. “It’s a more humble mindset in the role of the instructor, at least in terms of shaping the experience.”

The design minor may also lead to a review of prerequisite courses for the College of Engineering and a reassessment of traditional lecture-style engineering classes, Sastry said.

Before the minor can even be formally approved, however, the program must undergo evaluation by the Berkeley Division of the Academic Senate.

When implemented, Sastry believes the minor program will allow students to have more leadership experience upon graduation.

“This will force students and instructors to be more articulate about what they are doing,” he said. “It will teach them about the kind of work and experience you need to go out into the real world.”

Contact Andrew Dickey and Elise Lagana-Aliotti at [email protected]
LAST UPDATED

AUGUST 21, 2013


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