The Rice Faculty Senate has approved a new engineering design minor that will be offered beginning Fall 2017. The minor will allow students to work on solving real-world engineering challenges alongside peers from other departments in the school in highly collaborative, multidisciplinary teams.
“Both faculty who teach engineering-design courses and students with a passion for design have wanted this minor for a while,” said Maria Oden, director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen and a professor in the practice of engineering education. “It’s important for the students and the companies looking to hire them that they hold a credential that demonstrates a strength in this area.”
After two informational sessions, more than 35 students have signed up as interested in officially pursuing a minor in engineering design.
“Many students spend endless hours pursuing projects in the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen,” Oden said. “Building on that passion to offer a focused set of courses and provide depth in engineering-design experiences was important for us.”
Designed for students majoring in any discipline of engineering, the new minor will require four core courses and two electives. Students pursuing the minor will work on at least two varying design projects to gain different perspectives.
“For design projects, we’ll expect them to understand and implement the design process starting with defining a problem and taking it all the way through to a final product and subsequent evaluation,” Oden said. “Students will learn to communicate their solutions with a diverse set of audiences.”
Two of the core required classes are currently offered through the school, so the first students with an engineering-design minor could graduate in May 2018, according to Oden. Students who have already taken courses in the minor can count them toward the degree; students do not have to enroll in the minor as freshmen.
“By working on authentic design challenges, students can expect to become very proficient in the engineering-design process and gain enhanced leadership and communication tools,” Oden said. “They will hone a spectrum of skills — from project management to identifying potential projects to pursue, learning how to best manage teams and, most importantly, how to complete and deliver a solution to real-world engineering challenges.”