Provide an undergraduate education experience that promotes independent inquiry, is grounded in fundamentals, affords opportunities for innovation, and leads to successful career outcomes.
Our undergraduate students are among the best in the world. They choose engineering at Washington University in St. Louis because of the strength of our science, an environment that encourages exploration, and the opportunity to collaborate with both peers and faculty.
To keep our undergraduate curriculum and pedagogy focused and modern requires continued investment of time, energy and resources. Engineering continues to evolve — now more rapidly than ever. Our curriculum and educational delivery must evolve as well.
Goal 1: Support a vertically integrated educational environment and increase the participation of undergraduates in research.
At WashU's McKelvey School of Engineering, the distinctions of being an undergraduate student, a graduate researcher, or a postdoctoral fellow are blurred; the creation of knowledge in the lab is fundamental to the identity of the School and should be experienced by all students.
Goal 2: Ensure a modern, relevant curriculum for each major.
While fundamentals of disciplines change slowly, the skills relevant to the practice of engineering or to the pursuit of new knowledge in research evolve more rapidly. To ensure that our curriculum meets the needs of our students for both today’s world and that of tomorrow, it must be critically assessed in a modern context.
Goal 3: Increased opportunity for design and collaboration during the four-year undergraduate experience.
Innovation is the process of applying a new and original approach or set of approaches to solve a problem. In engineering, design is the practice of innovation. And the design process can be greatly amplified when performed collaboratively.
Goal 4: Develop a first-year experience for each department that students find engaging, which provides proper exposure to a selected major, and establishes 'engineering thinking.'
While some engineering students begin their studies with a clear understanding of the domain they wish to pursue, many only know they enjoy the analytical thinking embodied in engineering and that they have an aptitude for the quantitative methods that underlie the domain.
Goal 5: Increase the adoption of best pedagogical practices by instructional faculty into the teaching and learning environment of their classes (NTT, Enhancing, Support, Digital).
As engineering has evolved, so has the pedagogy of engineering education. Assessment can be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively, ranging from the percentage of classes adopting effective instructional paradigms to results of annual surveys.
Goal 6: Increase the connectivity between our undergraduates and career opportunities.
Our students — and their parents — expect the university to provide them not only with career opportunities upon graduating, but also with learning experiences during the entire four-year journey that result in a more sophisticated understanding of their various career choices. Faculty most naturally provide insight into graduate school and academic research options. More challenging is insight into industrial and corporate possibilities.
Goal 7: Promote a more diverse student body and ensure that students develop communication and interpersonal skills effective across disciplines and cultures.
Engineers and researchers have the most impact and success when they can communicate their ideas and perspectives to others outside their disciplines, and indeed outside the technical sphere. WashU is often the first place our students encounter cultures and values different than their own. Establishing the value of such cultural diversity encourages communication and discourse.
Goal 8: Establish targeted mentorship and advising in Undergraduate Student Services to support disadvantaged and minority students with the goal of achieving better retention and graduation rates within those populations.
The university has significantly increased its undergraduate recruiting efforts targeting disadvantaged and underrepresented students, and the results of these efforts are visible within the school. But our success rates with those students are lower than those overall. The goal is to identify opportunities to provide better mentoring and advising to disadvantaged and underrepresented students.