Advances in Engineering EducationFALL 2021Three Stanford Faculty Write about Change & EngineeringEducationSHERI SHEPPARDR. LANIER ANDERSONTOM KENNYStanford UniversityPalo Alto, CAABSTRACTStanford has always embraced educational change, but not for its own sake. Instead, we havepursued reforms in response to specific problems or to realize definite possibilities. In that sense,our curricular innovations seek to move purposefully from what is to what might be. Such purposefulchange is guided by underlying values grounded in our commitment to a broad liberal educationmodel. We want our students to develop disciplinary knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA), but alsoways of thinking and knowledge beyond their specialized fields. We want their education to profitthem individually, and also to position them to help their communities and the wider world. Our dualgoal of disciplinary KSA in concert with a broad liberal education does give rise to tensions. Afterall, university study with an exclusively disciplinary focus (as is normal in European higher education), or with a purely liberal arts orientation (offered in many smaller U.S. colleges) could easily fillan entire undergraduate experience.In this essay, we offer some historical and contemporary examples of educational change at ourUniversity. Each illustrates the inherent tension at the heart of Stanford’s ongoing efforts to situate engineering education within liberal education—a tension that calls for innovative thinking and approaches.Key words: Diversity concerns-student diversity, institutional change, accreditation-ABETINTRODUCTIONIn this essay we consider engineering undergraduate education at Stanford in the larger contextof University values and professional standards. As we illustrate, University values have historicallyinfluenced the makeup of an engineering undergraduate experience. Their influence is still present,FALL 20211

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationand they challenge Stanford faculty to think creatively, critically and innovatively about how a modernundergraduate engineering degree should serve an increasingly diverse set of learners who mustoperate in a world of expanding complexity. We begin by looking at some of Stanford’s foundingprinciples, followed by a modern case study of an engineering undergraduate program where thefaculty have attempted to balance these principles and formal professional requirements. We endwith a glimpse into real-time University-level decision-making that may impact the face of undergraduate engineering at Stanford.We offer this essay as an example of engineering education innovation being intrinsically anddynamically connected to the aims of liberal education as a whole. When speaking of “liberal education,” we bear in mind both what such an education fundamentally is and the main benefits it issupposed to bring to students. On the first point, liberal education affords students freely-choseneducational pathways within a set of constraints designed to ensure a degree of breadth in theireducational experiences—as opposed to higher education focused entirely on training within aspecialized discipline. On the second, the broadening demands of liberal education are supposedto promote the development in our students of key capabilities in critical thinking, a more cosmopolitan outlook, and exposure to a range of disciplinary ways of thinking helpful to their formationas broad-minded citizens of a diverse modern society.STANFORD—A DIFFERENT KIND OF UNIVERSITY, EDUCATING A DIFFERENT KIND OF ENGINEERFounding Ideas—Innovative RootsOur founders, Leland and Jane Stanford, envisioned a different kind of university, robustly engaged with the surrounding society. Stanford’s Founding Grant aims to “promote the public welfare”by “qualify[ing] its students for personal success, and direct usefulness in life” (Stanford University1987, 4). Jane Stanford insisted that the University be co-educational from the beginning, so thatStanford women would feel full ownership as members of the institution. Stanford also sought tomake higher education more accessible; in the early years, tuition was free or minimal.The reform-minded Stanfords were attracted to the “elective system” pioneered at Cornell University, which abandoned the traditional curriculum centered on classical languages and permittedstudents to focus instead on scientific and technical subjects, modern languages, or the social sciences. Notably, the Founding Grant provides for facilities like “mechanical institutes,” “museums,”etc., to support a wide range of practical subjects. Stanford thereby committed to an expansiveversion of liberal education, which grounds students in a broad study of the sciences and liberalarts, while also providing access to technical and professional studies. The engineering fields were2FALL 2021

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationalways an integral part of this picture: Five of the first fifteen faculty members were engineers,around 25 percent of the initial students pursued engineering, and prominent early graduates (e.g.,Herbert Hoover) entered engineering professions. Hoover’s career exemplified the Stanford goal ofengineering education “in behalf of humanity and civilization” (Stanford University 1987, 4).To lead their University, the Stanfords selected David Starr Jordan, a Cornell graduate who wasPresident of Indiana University (IU). Jordan had implemented a version of the elective system at IUin the 1880s (Jordan 1922, 293–4). That curriculum preserved a required program during the firsttwo years, but devoted the later years to a major field elected by the student. Jordan leapt at theopportunity to extend his experimentation at a new university in the West, with a faculty he couldselect. At Stanford, Jordan radicalized the IU curriculum into the “major system” of higher education.The Basic Idea of a “Major” and the Power of DepartmentsThe Stanford major system was conceived as a program for individualized, elective-driven education. As Jordan described it,The unit of faculty organization would be the professorship rather than the department. Eachstudent, therefore, must choose a major professor who should be his adviser, and in whosedepartment he must take enough courses to fulfill certain requirements. As minor subjectsor electives, all classes would be open to any student intellectually ready for the work. Tosecure the Bachelor’s degree, each candidate would be obliged to satisfy his major professorand to complete enough other work to fill the conventional four years. The largest libertyconsistent with good work was to be granted to the student. (Jordan 1922, 358)Originally, then, each student worked out an individualized curriculum for the entire four yearswith a major professor chosen upon entry to the University. The new system laid down an ethos ofeducational decentralization: Jordan had the adage “Every professor sovereign in his own department” (Stanford University 2012, 18). Clearly, though, the efficiencies of standardizing major curriculaat the department level were powerful, particularly once departments grew and “sovereignty” hadto be jointly held. Within fifteen years, departments had assumed full control of Stanford majors.Majors were generally supposed to claim only one-third of the total effort required for graduation(40 of 120 semester units). This afforded ample space for the free exploration so important to Jordan.But it was already clear that such a limited curriculum was insufficient for engineering. Applied science disciplines were exempted from the cap, and some exceeded it by a great deal; the major inmechanical engineering, for example, required 65 units of engineering courses, plus an additional47–8 units of applied mathematics, physics, chemistry, and metallurgy, thereby consuming up toFALL 20213

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Education113 of 120 total semester-units. The special treatment of engineering revealed internal tensions thathave continued to affect the Stanford major system to this day. The central issue pits liberal education’s aim to provide exposure to many fields against the major’s goal of intensive specialist training.Jordan’s second legacy—decentralization—has exacerbated this tension over the years. Stanfordprofessors are all now appointed within departments, so none are individually sovereign within afield. But decentralized academic planning persists. Departments have been permitted to establishand revise major requirements without strong centralized control, and major curricula have effectively been captured by the specialist disciplines. As a result, Stanford majors show unusually greatvariation in their demands upon students.Engineering majors have traditionally been the most demanding. We have therefore faced aconsistent challenge to secure our students the benefits of a broad liberal education together withthe specialist training they need to be successful engineers.EVOLVING AN ENGINEERING PROGRAM TO FIT STANFORDAND PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS: 2015Now we fast-forward to 2015 for an example of change in the Mechanical Engineering (ME) majorthat illustrates how independently operating departments can confront that challenge of meetingboth Stanford and professional standards. By 2015, Stanford’s overall undergraduate populationwas over 7000 students and nearly 50:50 women and men. The School of Engineering had ninedepartments, offering 18 major areas of study (Stanford University 2014) that led to a Bachelor ofScience. ME undergraduates, some 25 percent of whom were women, represented the second largest major within Stanford’s School of Engineering, and the ME undergraduate program was highlyregarded externally. The structure of the 2015 ME degree had been largely unchanged for over30 years (though it was very different from the early 20th century programs described above), andoffered students essentially a single path through the major. Of the 180 quarter-units required for aStanford degree1, ME “laid claim” to 117 (66%)2. Much of the overall structure of these 117 units wasdictated by ABET3, an international engineering accreditation organization. ABET had a prescribedprogram accreditation process that involved going through an extensive self-study and externalreview process every six years to confirm achievement of learning criteria related to analytic and1In 1917 Stanford converted from the semester system to the quarter system; 180 quarter-units represents 120 semester-units2In addition, the university had imposed more “general education” requirements3Formally known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology4FALL 2021

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationdesign skills, communications abilities, teamwork and life-long learning, and awareness of ethicsand social context.The Importance of Data for Prompting New ThinkingIn the fall of 2015 the Undergraduate Curriculum Committee (UGCC) in the ME Departmentpresented at a faculty meeting data from the spring 2015 Senior and Alumni surveys on how thedepartment was doing relative to its program’s educational objectives and outcomes. These datawere generated as part of the department’s ABET self-study process, and while they suggestedit was doing well on many of the measures, there was room for improvement: We could do moreto help our students learn to function on multidisciplinary teams and understand professional andethical responsibility, as well as use modern engineering tools necessary for engineering practice.Furthermore, the open-ended comments offered by seniors and alumni indicated the need forthe program to give students more choices, use more modern technologies and industry-inspiredexamples and projects, and challenge students to explore in depth areas within ME that are of interest to them. The implications of these data interacted in departmental discussions with ideas fromseveral other sources, including our review of ME programs at other leading U.S. engineering schools,models emerging in the other engineering departments at Stanford, recommendations from theASME Vision 2030 report (ASME Board on Education, V2030 Project Group 2012), and pressuresfrom increasing enrollments. The UGCC then took on the challenge of redesigning the BSME degreeduring Academic Year (AY) 2015–16.Slow and Steady Development Leading to the BSME 2.0: 2015–2018Throughout AY 2015–16 many faculty, beyond the UGCC membership, were involved in the redesigneffort, which became known as the BSME 2.0 (BSME, Bachelor’s of Science-Mechanical Engineering). Faculty-teams explored (and debated) possible concentrations and tracks, core fundamentalsfor all ME majors to know and do, a “slimming” of the major that could still prepare graduates forprofessional practice and/or graduate school, as well as new models of capstone experiences andadvising. The UGCC, in partnership with the department chair and the director of student services,considered implications of the new program on resources (faculty, staff, course assistants, suppliesand spaces) and advising. In the spring of 2016, we pressure-tested potential shortcomings by hosting an afternoon ME Undergraduate Summit exclusively on the redesign and a student focus groupto solicit additional student input. This culminated in a formal BSME 2.0 proposal, which was passedunanimously by the entire ME faculty in June 2016.The department’s endeavors in redesigning the ME major over AY 2015–16 illustrate the decentralized nature of majors at Stanford (harkening back to Jordan), as there was little conferral withFALL 20215

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationthe School of Engineering about the proposed changes, much less any review and approval at theSchool or University levels. The result also revealed the tension that engineering faculty attempt tobalance between designing majors that recognize (and value) engineering in the larger context of aliberal education, and that train students who are well respected in the larger engineering community.During the next two academic years, new courses were piloted and modifications were made toexisting courses. This led to the official launch of the BSME 2.0 as the new ME major in the fall of 2018.The redesign effort was successful in part because faculty acknowledged four key points upfront: 1) afour-year engineering undergraduate degree is too short of a time to educate a “fully formed engineer,”2) faculty and students should share responsibility for defining which KSA (knowledge, skills and abilities) are crucial for the major, 3) the new structure should be “changeable” as student and faculty interests change, and 4) the major would remain an ABET-accredited program (which adds up to a minimumof 113 quarter-units) that is intent on achieving a set of professionally-established learning outcomes4for our students.While the overall structure of the BSME 2.0 may not appear to be highly innovative, its designand implementation do represent a significant shift in faculty thinking. In our new paradigm, theME faculty as a whole take responsibility for all core learning objectives for Mechanical Engineeringstudents, rather than devolving responsibility to the specialized subfields. This more collective wayof thinking has opened the door to more and deeper discussions among the faculty about what weteach, how we teach and (perhaps most importantly) how students learn.Launched in 2018, with More Work to DoIn the BSME 2.0, represented in Figure 1, students have 42 quarter-units in the ME core (agreedon by the ME faculty collectively) that establish a foundation in knowledge, skills, and abilities keyto Mechanical Engineering. The associated courses aim to achieve the ABET learning outcomes (see4 In 2015 there were 12 ABET learning outcomes. As of 2019, the ABET learning outcomes have been revised to seven; the BSME2.0 has been adapted to these. Students should acquire to:1. identify, formulate, and solve complex engineering problems by applying principles of engineering, science, and mathematics2. apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs with consideration of public health, safety, andwelfare, as well as global, cultural, social, environmental, and economic factors3. communicate effectively with a range of audiences4. recognize ethical and professional responsibilities in engineering situations and make informed judgments, which must considerthe impact of engineering solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal contexts5. function effectively on a team whose members together provide leadership, create a collaborative and inclusive environment,establish goals, plan tasks, and meet objectives6. develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions7. acquire and apply new knowledge as needed, using appropriate learning strategies6FALL 2021

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering EducationFigure 1. Abstract Representation of the BSME 2.0.footnote 4), with special attention being given to “identify, formulate, and solve complex engineeringproblems” and “apply engineering design to produce solutions that meet specified needs.” The corebegins with ME1: Introduction to Mechanical Engineering, designed to allow students to determine ifME is a good fit by introducing key tools (e.g., MATLAB, CAD), concepts (e.g., free-body diagrams,control volumes), processes (e.g., design, analysis), and role models (e.g., guest speakers). It endswith a 2-quarter capstone experience, ME170ab: Mechanical Engineering Design: Integrating Contextwith Engineering, developing projects with real clients.Students declare one of four concentrations for another 18 units; a concentration enablesa student to focus more in-depth in a particular ME aspect that is of interest to them. This,in combination with a year of math/science (required by ABET) adds up to 113 quarter-units.Students have University requirements beyond the 113 units—including studying a foreign language,general education courses in writing and college-level learning, and breadth requirements that exposestudents to other disciplines and ways of thinking. These requirements, as well as the number ofunits that should be required for a major, are currently under debate as discussed in the next section.It is noteworthy that the launch of the BSME 2.0 coincided with our ABET reaccreditation; we arehappy to report that our program has been reaccredited until 20245. Furthermore, its less-rigid structure has enabled faculty to introduce new and novel courses (e.g., ENGR217: Expanding EngineeringLimits—Culture, Diversity and Equity; ME267: Ethics and Equity in Transportation Systems). However,5The ME major was first accredited by the American Engineers’ Council for Professional Development, the predecessor to ABET, in 1936FALL 20217

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationthere is more work to do to “fine tune” and improve the BSME 2.0 so that it is fully accessible toany matriculating student (regardless of their high school background), has greater coherence (andless redundancy) of topics between courses, makes greater use of active-learning strategies, andcontinues to evolve with student and faculty interests. An interim/internal review of the BSME 2.0was planned for AY 2020–21, but has been postponed a year because of faculty attention being refocused on developing and delivering online courses for AY 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.WHAT SHOULD A MODERN STANFORD MAJOR LOOK LIKE? A QUESTION UNDER DEBATEA Stanford education continues to be comprised of University requirements intended to preparestudents to think about big questions and department-selected content in the major that providesspecialization within a discipline. Stanford frequently re-examines the University-wide requirements,but it tends to leave the department-specific content for the departments to define (as illustratedin the previous section). In AY 2017–18, however, a Design Committee6 was convened to take aUniversity-wide look at the role of the major within Stanford education.Current State of the Major System at Stanford and its ChallengesThe freedom granted to departments to define content has had two consequences: Stanford majors have been “captured by the disciplines,” in that they have evolved to reflectdisciplinary self-conceptions and the educational trends within each field. Pre-2018, Stanfordmajors varied in unit demands from 55 to 135 quarter-units (inclusive of pre-requisites) outof 180 required for graduation, and in internal structure from largely flat to highly laddered. This variation in the basic features of an undergraduate major reflects an underdeveloped institutional vision for the major’s educational role as a part of liberal education. Unfortunately,this promotes the notion that the only role of the major is to provide vital vocational trainingthat plays an outsized role in defining the future of Stanford graduates.These distinctive features of the Stanford major system pose two key challenges for our presentand future: The growth of specialized knowledge may result in increased demands within some majorsthat could jeopardize the accessibility of all majors for all Stanford students. Some of our beststudents arrive at Stanford without Advanced Placement credits or other advanced preparation6The 16-member Design Committee was led by co-authors L. Anderson and T. Kenny, and was made up of senior faculty and lec-turers, as well as senior administrators in undergraduate education and development. It was complemented with a standing focusgroup of 15–20 students from all four classes and majors from across the University, with whom the Committee regularly conferred.8FALL 2021

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationin key subjects. We must ensure that all students have the space to learn what they need tobe successful in the major of their choice. The lack of a shared institutional vision about the major’s educational role and proper internalstructure is a growing challenge to the transparency of our system. Some students struggleto make informed decisions among majors as they explore their interests, and the lack ofcommon structure contributes to the false, exclusively vocational conception of the major.Main Policy Recommendations: Unit-Load Reform and CapstonesThe Design Committee proposed recommendations to advance two, mutually reinforcing goals(Stanford University 2019). First, the major should provide a first-hand experience of what it is liketo understand and perform within a discipline at depth, without requiring comprehensive coverage.Second, the demands of an undergraduate major on the students must remain at a level consistentwith their reasonable engagement with the many other aspects of a full liberal education so thatour graduates leave Stanford as broad-minded, creative, and resourceful thinkers, prepared to facechallenges that we cannot yet even imagine.After broad faculty discussion throughout October 2019, including five Town Hall meetingsengaging faculty across Stanford’s three undergraduate-training Schools (Earth, Energy and Environmental Sciences; Humanities and Sciences; Engineering), the Committee’s recommendationswere deliberated within the Academic Council Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy(C-USP), and then presented to Stanford’s Faculty Senate7, for approval at the end of AY 2019-20.The first two recommendations, which relate directly to the form of the major, were that: No majors should impose requirements amounting to fewer than 60 or more than 95 quarterunits of coursework, inclusive of necessary pre-requisites. This recommendation does notdefine the size of the major as narrowly as many peer institutions, but adopting a range thatextends from one-third of total student effort to just over one-half does send a clear signalthat the major should occupy substantial, but limited, space within the student’s completeeducation. We believe this size profile will be compatible with the other goals of liberal education, including first-year general education, global exposure, and robust educational breadth. Every Stanford student be required to complete a substantial capstone experience that integrates important elements of the undergraduate experience and culminates the student’s7As described at “The elected [Stanford] Faculty Senate is the centerpiece of academic governance at Stanford and the main instrument for faculty participation in setting policy and making decisions on academic affairs. The work of the Senate and its committees-the Steering Committee, the Committee on Committees, and the Planning andPolicy Board-is supported by the Academic Secretary’s Office.”FALL 20219

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationundergraduate intellectual development at Stanford. The capstone would provide a clear focusaround which elements of the major can be organized by serving as the telos of the student’seducation; introductory, breadth, and depth elements of the major could be oriented toward it.Feedback-to-Date: March 2020 and BeyondConcerns arose from the Town Halls and C-USP debates that the 95-unit “cap” would not affordenough room to develop disciplinary KSA indispensable to student success, particularly withinengineering. As a result, C-USP forwarded a modified recommendation to the Faculty Senate thatraised the cap to 100 units. The proposals prompted extensive discussion at a special in-personFaculty Senate meeting on March 5, 2020, where small (circa 8 members) groups were formed tofacilitate active and exploratory debate.A second full Senate meeting was held on May 7, 2020 (via Zoom to accommodate conditionsbrought on by the COVID-19 pandemic) for formal deliberation of the unit-cap proposal. At thatmeeting, faculty associated with some currently high-unit majors, particularly within engineering,continued to express concerns that the proposed unit cap imposes an arbitrary constraint on thecontent necessary for success in a discipline. While the reforms left the specification of major learninggoals up to expert faculty in the departments, the proposal did introduce new constraints on thosedecisions through the unit range “design target,” intended to ensure accessibility for all students.This disagreement led to vigorous debate about how best to balance local expert judgments onhow much content is needed to achieve major learning goals against the whole University’s interestin the universal accessibility of majors.The Senate passed the unit-cap proposal on a divided vote, which did not allay concerns withinthe School of Engineering regarding the unit cap proposal. In the following weeks, a petition circulated calling for a special meeting of the entire Stanford Academic Council (whose membershipincludes all tenure-line faculty at the University) to reconsider the decision. The petition attractedsufficient signatures, coming largely, though not entirely, from engineering faculty, and on June 23,2020 the Academic Secretary convened the first special meeting of the Academic Council sincethe Vietnam era of 1970.The meeting did not achieve quorum, preventing any binding decisions, but both proponents andopponents of the proposal agreed to proceed with a full discussion of the educational issues raisedby the Senate decision. The petitioners argued in favor of the University’s traditional decentralizeddecision-making model for majors (i.e., each department determines its own major requirements)vs. the reform proponents who argued to preserve the liberal education model (i.e., the Universityplays a role in determining what percentage of total student effort may reasonably be claimed bythe major) and for the whole University’s interest in the accessibility of majors. Another major topic10FALL 2021

ADVANCES IN ENGINEERING EDUCATIONThree Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Educationof discussion was an exceptions policy. The original Senate legislation envisioned exceptions onlyfor departments with ABET accreditation, but some engineering departments that had departedfrom ABET asserted they could present just as strong an intellectual case for exceptions treatmentas could ABET programs like Mechanical Engineering.Despite lacking quorum, all parties agreed that the depth of disagreement and importance ofthe issues raised for our students’ education called for a compromise proposal. The Senate SteeringCommittee therefore brought an amendment focused on a broadened exceptions process to theFaculty Senate on October 22, 20208. The amendment specified that: “Any major that is accredited by an external accreditation organization, such as ABET,is exempted from complying with the policy if the 100-unit limit is too low to meet the organization’s standards or expectations. Any department that offers such an exempted accredited major must also offer a unit-compliantmajor for students who do not wish to pursue the accredited major. Any department or program may seek an exception from the 100-unit limit under a reviewand approval process outlined in the amended policy.”The exceptions review is two-sided and will rely on good faith: The department submits documentation detailing their efforts to make the major as accessible as possible for all students,and the School Dean and a University-wide committe

ABSTRCIN OR DRUORII—ORU DBECTKOVR Three Stanford Faculty Write about Change & Engineering Education SHERI SHEPPARD . graduate engineering at Stanford. . (though it was very different from the early 20 t