- B.S. Engineering Technology
- Program Director
- Dr. Scott Springer
- PRC Consultants
- Ted Harris and Bill Bailey
- Date of Last Review
- May, 2001, with status reports made in May 2002 and May 2003.
- Committee Findings
- The committee recommends continuation of this program until the next audit cycle.
Purpose of the Review
The review was conducted to assess the quality of the B.S. Engineering Technology degree program as part of the ongoing seven-year review cycle of every UW-Stout program.
The UW-Stout Engineering Technology program prepares graduates for professional careers in mechanical design, manufacturing, sales, facilities, plastics and operations. The hands-on approach to learning which involves combining theory, practice, and experimentation trains program graduates to apply sound engineering and management principles to industrial problems. The program utilizes continuous quality improvement to adapt to changing technologies, changing student needs, and changes in the global society. This program has undergone significant changes in recent years. Prior program concentrations such as Packaging, Construction, Telecommunications and Graphic Arts have been spun off as separate programs. In 1998, a new core of more technology-based concentrations was designed. In 2001, the name of the program was changed from Industrial Technology to its present title. At one time this program’s precursor, Industrial Technology, was one of the largest programs on campus, but enrollment trends have been down since the 1980’s and the spin off of the above four concentrations into separate programs contributed to that downward trend. Enrollment bottomed out in 1999 and has recently been on the increase, in part, because of the 1999 program revision and 2001 name change.
Process Followed for Current Review
The PRC Chair met with the program director to discuss the review process. Data regarding several aspects of the program were collected from students, key instructors within and outside the department, program advisory committee members and program graduates. The data were analyzed and returned to the program director and PRC members. The program director then completed the self-study, presented the report to the PRC, and responded to questions. The PRC discussed the program report and the consultants met with the program director for clarification on some questions. Consultants wrote the report which included the recommendations. The report was reviewed and endorsed by the PRC and forwarded to the dean and the department chair.
The last PRC review was conducted in Spring of 1997, and since that time, the program has had two changes in program director, underwent a major program revision in 1999 and a name change in 2001, and has dropped two program concentrations for budgetary reasons.
What follows are the 1997 issues of concern and recommendations and the responses to these concerns and recommendations.
Issues of Concern
Lack of appropriate laboratory equipment.
The Engineering Technology program shares lab facilities with the Manufacturing Engineering program and these facilities are currently adequate.
The rhetoric of “hands-on” student concerns about the general education component of their program.
The 1999 program revision re-instituted the hands-on approach and student complaints about this issue have diminished. Student complaints about general education have also diminished suggesting that the message about the value of these courses has gotten through to the majority of the students.
Increase the availability of lab space and equipment so that parity between Engineering Technology students and Manufacturing Engineering students exists.
This has been done (see above).
The Dean of CTEM should promote the integration of general education courses and clarify the purpose of these courses.
Again, this problem seems to have been largely solved.
Reallocate faculty from over-staffed Engineering Technology courses to areas in CTEM where under-staffing is a problem.
The problem now is not over-staffing, but the under-staffing of courses needed for the Engineering Technology program.
The program director should develop a set of assessment tools for the Engineering Technology program.
With the recent development of the continuous quality improvement model of assessment, this problem has been addressed.
- Change in program name and new engineering focus
- The 1999 program revision, adding technology courses to the professional core, effectively changed the thrust of the program to the more widely-recognized field of engineering technology. This is an advantage for recruiting because prospective employers are more likely to recognize the preparation of our graduates. Source: program report and conversation with program director.
- Use of the continuous quality improvement model of assessment.
- Stout has opted to move to this model to assess and demonstrate the quality of its programs and operation as compared to the more traditional model of periodic accreditation reviews. In this model, selected outcomes are measured each year by comparing them to instructional objectives. If the outcome doesn’t “measure up,” then instruction is modified. Over time, the entire program will be assessed in this manner. This model is to be preferred because program improvement can occur on a regular as opposed to periodic basis. The Engineering Technology program is at the cutting edge of this model, a model that all Stout programs will eventually adopt. Source: program report and conversation with program director.
- The plan to achieve ABET accreditation
- The 1999 revision was designed to create a more technological program, and the program name change removed the basis for the previous accreditation which was with the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT). The revised program in Engineering Technology should logically be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology (ABET). This has not as of yet occurred because ABET requires greater faculty depth in order to demonstrate long-term program stability. The faculty’s higher program report envisions (see below) would bring ABET accreditation. Source: program report and conversation with program director.
- Continued high placement rate even in a sluggish economy
- Although the economy has had a low growth rate over the last number of years and there has been a loss of manufacturing jobs in the economic region that this program serves, placement rates have remained high and should continue at this level. Given the stiff global competition for manufacturing industries, firms can either relocate to low wage countries or remain here and become more efficient. In any case, there is a lot of stress placed on increasing productivity, and this can only happen by creating a more efficient manufacturing process, something that Engineering Technology graduates are trained to do. Source: program report and conversation with program director.
- New program revision
- The 1999 program revision increased the number of professional studies and basic technology credits. Together with general education courses, the credits held in common and taken by all the concentrations increased to 94 with 30 credits being allocated to the concentrations. This allowed for more required courses in technology, increasing the hands-on nature of the program and answering an earlier student complaint that the program was not sufficiently hands-on. Source: program report and conversation with program director.
- Program as incubator for new programs
- This program has served Stout well as new concentrations can be tried before it is decided to launch new major programs in technology. In the past, Packaging, Construction, Telecommunications and Graphic Arts were first program concentrations and then, as demand grew, they were spun off as separate programs. Source: program report.
- The program is increasing in size
- The number of new freshmen applications is increasing. Source: program report and institutional data.
- Performance of the program director
- The current program director exerts strong, positive leadership and his tenure since 2001 has added stability to the administration of the program. Source: key instructor and program committee surveys.
Issues of Concern
- Open faculty positions because of retirements and backlog for required courses
- Unless students can take their courses in a timely manner they will not be able to graduate in four years, and this will tend to reduce the attractiveness of the program. Beyond that, an ABET accreditation would lead prospective employers to be more positively disposed to our graduates. Source: program report and conversation with the program director.
- Absence of stabilized concentration coordinators for Facilities and Production Operations concentrations.
- Source: program report.
- A decrease in the rating (in follow-up studies of graduates) for the question about re-applying to this program.
- The three-year follow-up done in 1998 had 57% of respondents indicating that they would re-apply to the program. The one-year follow-up done in 2000 found the same question yielding 72%. Since both cohorts graduated prior to the 1999 revision, the differences in percentages are probably not significant although the program director should scrutinize responses to this question, in particular, as part of the regular assessment process. Source: follow-up surveys.
Recommendations for the Program Director
- Pursue ABET accreditation
- This accreditation is consistent with the program revision and change in title. Our program is now comparable to engineering technology programs throughout the nation and gaining this accreditation would confer the legitimacy the program deserves. Source: program report.
Recommendations for the Department Chair and the Dean
- Focus on using this program as an incubator for new and innovative engineering technology initiatives.
- Additional faculty and resources are needed to enhance the program.
- Consider entry into one of the emerging technology fields. For example, the Twin Cities has become a center for biomechanical engineering, and since we are located close to this technological cluster, it may make sense to pilot a concentration in this field.