This engineering education research project will help a team of engineering faculty and educational researchers plan to collect long term data to understand changes in student learning for a unique curriculum in Minnesota. The Iron Range Engineering program draws from community colleges and engages students in a self-directed, project-based learning curriculum that involves local industries that need to hire engineers.
The broader significance and importance of this project will be to investigate the effectively of alternative curricular models that have rarely been implemented in the United States. The Iron Range Engineering model has the potential to serve as a model for groups of students who are under-represented in most engineering programs or who desire to build on previous real-world experiences in obtaining an engineering degree. This project overlaps with NSF's strategic goals of transforming the frontiers through preparation of an engineering workforce with new capabilities and expertise. Additionally NSF's goal of innovating for society is enabled by supporting the development of innovative learning systems.