Assessing the Impact of Project-based Design Education in Engineering on Alumni, Current Students, and Educators

PI: Prof. Sheri Sheppard


Education, if it is doing its job, affects students in the shortterm and the long-term. Over the last two years we have studied the effects of project-based design education in engineering fields on students, looking at graduates up to 25 years out—-their career paths and how they have applied school-learned design thinking, technology, and innovation & entrepreneurial skills. In this proposed third year of research, we round out the study by circling back to the classrooms of three multi-term project-based engineering design courses to better understand how students’ skills and career imaginations evolve as they experience the designed and unintentional curriculums created by the teaching teams. The research findings will enable us to refine and benchmark our two-part framework for designing, analyzing and comparing project-based design engineering courses focusing on the pedagogical strategies that are used to support the learning of design thinking, engineering, and innovation and entrepreneurial knowledge, skills, and abilities. This framework and the associated research tools have the potential to expand conversations about the future of design and engineering education by giving educators new insights into the effects of their courses on their students over time.


Helen L. Chen, George Toye