Project Summary

CPACE: A Collaborative Process to Align Computing Education with Engineering Workforce Needs

Michigan State University (MSU), Lansing Community College (LCC) and the Corporation for a Skilled Workforce (CSW) have partnered to design and implement a process to create a collaboratively-defined undergraduate computing education within the engineering and technology fields in alignment with the computational problem-solving abilities needed to transform mid-Michigan's economy and workforce. To promote the abilities of engineering graduates to perform problem solving with computer tools that are needed to transform mid-Michigan's economy and workforce, the project will

  1. Bring together faculty and administrators from the College of Engineering at MSU, LCC, key leaders in the Mid-Michigan Innovation Team (MMIT) who are spearheading Mid-Michigan's U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative, and representatives of professional organizations who have an interest in transforming undergraduate computing education.
  2. Create and institute a highly collaborative process to engage these participants in redesigning undergraduate computing curriculum. This process will be replicable in other engineering schools, in other STEM disciplines and in other WIRED communities state/nationwide.
  3. Document, research and evaluate the efficacy of this approach to curriculum change and development.
  4. Prepare a CPATH Transformation (T) grant proposal to complete and implement the redesign of computing education in the engineering programs at Michigan StateUniversity, LansingCommunity College, and other mid-Michigan schools to serve as a test bed for national implementation.

Intellectual Merit

For engineering education to prepare graduates to flourish in a new global economy, innovation and flexibility in curricular design based on constituency input and quality improvement principles are necessary (Lattuca, Terenzini, & Volkwein, 2006). However, curricular change in higher education requires faculty buy-in through cognitive institutionalization (Colbeck, 2002). Therefore, reform efforts must emphasize engagement of higher education engineering and computer science faculty in the process of regional economic change and school-to-work education (Fear, Rosaen, Bawden, & Foster-Fishman, 2006). The project's Transformation Model is designed to address these structural issues for institutionalizing reform.

Broader Impact

The process developed in this project will ensure that a wide variety of stakeholders - business, community leaders and post secondary educators - collaborate to identify workforce computational skills, define how these skills can be integrated across a curriculum, and develop revised curricula that integrates computational problem-solving across engineering departmental courses. By documenting, evaluating, and making the process explicit, it can serve as a model for national efforts to revitalize undergraduate computing education in engineering, and should be extensible to other computing education reform efforts.  

CPACE Transformation Process

The CPACE Transformation Process is shown in the figure below.

The process begins by bringing together representatives from the various Stakeholderswho come together to Identify Specific Workforce Computational Skills

-      The next step is to Abstract Computational Problem-Solving Principles from this list of discrete skills.  These principles are then checked among the various stakeholders to confirm that they capture the important skills.  Since the principles are intended to capture a wide range of skills, they should be broader and more generalizable than individual skills.

-      Next, we Align Principles with Computer Science Concepts to map the problem-solving requirements onto the underlying computer science concepts that are the foundation of computer science curricula.  This alignment is checked against the desired skills. 

-      From here we Identify Opportunities for Curricular Integration that fit between the computer science concepts and engineering curricula in other departments.  The abstract concepts begin to align with disciplinary problem-solving that addresses the eventual workforce needs.

-      The final step in the cycle is to Implement Computational Problem-Solving Revisions in both computer science and other engineering curricula.  We envision revising curricula across courses in multiple engineering departments to incorporate computational problem-solving tools within the various disciplinary contexts.