CPACE Advisory Board Meeting July 30, 2009 CPACE II NSF Proposal Project Summary

CPACE II: Implementing Constituency-driven Curricular Change that Integrates Computational Thinking Across Engineering Disciplines

Michigan State University (MSU), Lansing Community College (LCC), and the Corporation for
Skilled Workforce (CSW) are extending the collaboration from an initial CPATH CB project to prepare a
globally competitive engineering workforce that is able to apply Computational Thinking (CT) to a broad
range of societal challenges and opportunities. Computational Thinking "represents a universally
applicable attitude and skill set" fundamental for everyone (Wing, 2006). Broadly defined in the context of
the engineering practice, computational thinking involves solving problems and designing systems by
making use of fundamental computer science concepts.
Our goal is to redesign the role of computing within the engineering programs at MSU and LCC to
develop CT competencies - informed by industry needs - by infusing CT learning opportunities into the
undergraduate engineering curriculum.

Intellectual Merit
The project will produce the following outcomes:
• Develop and implement instructional modules in Chemical Engineering and Civil Engineering at MSU
and the pre-engineering courses at LCC. Each module will be developed by a collaborative team of
disciplinary and Computer Science (CS) faculty; the CS faculty will focus on understanding the CT
principles at play in the problem solution as explained by the disciplinary faculty. Together the team
will form the educational experience to further the development of CT thinking in the students.
• Identify and implement authentic problems for curricular revision in two engineering disciplinary
curricula at MSU and the engineering transfer curricula at LCC. These problems are "disciplinary
epitomes" (Reigeluth & Stein, 1983) in that they will 1) exemplify important problems within the
discipline (e.g., civil or chemical engineering); and 2) their solutions involve application of CT
• Identify the computational principles for each disciplinary epitome and use these principles to help
design the instructional modules.
• Develop appropriate materials to support the disciplinary faculty who will be teaching the modules.
• Design and implement quasi-experimental evaluation and assessment components to document CT
competencies in the engineering students.
• Improve information and knowledge exchange via the CPACE Engineering Talent Development
Network and dissemination and communication efforts.

Broader Impact
At the successful completion of the proposed project, we will illuminate the processes we have
developed in our two CPATH projects. In our first CPATH project, we developed a model for collaboration
with industrial stakeholders in engineering firms to determine their needs for computational problem
solving. In our second CPATH project we will complete the loop by enhancing the stakeholder
collaboration model and integrating CT into existing academic programs using an evolutionary change
methodology. The process of industrial stakeholder feedback and analysis of that feedback (our first
project) and the process of programmatic change to meet stakeholder needs (our second project -
proposed here) will be applicable in other similar institutions. More broadly, our methodology may be
applicable for other educational areas in addition to CT.