Distance Education Fills Engineering Program Needs

Distance education fills engineering program needs

Most of us have the problem of not being able to be in two places at the same time-but not Ned Weckmueller. Weckmueller, associate professor in UW-Stout's industrial management department, pioneered a cooperative distance education program between UW-Stout and UW-Platteville in which he taught an engineering class to students at Stout and was, at the same time, teaching Platteville students who saw him on a 71-inch TV screen.

His efforts were part of a distance education cooperative agreement between the two universities, which were the joint recipients of a UW System grant to set up the program. With the grant, similar facilities were established at both locations, and engineering courses began to be transmitted in January 1995.

This two-way education is made possible by screens and cameras at both schools. Each school has a 71-inch TV screen (monitor) and document cameras (ceiling-mounted video cameras). The instructor wears infrared tracking on both the front and back so that the camera can follow movements.

Last semester, as part of the cooperative agreement, Platteville delivered two engineering courses to Stout. Joanne Wilson, Platteville's associate dean of the College of Engineering, and Asama Jadaan, of that department, both taught Mechanics of Materials; and Platteville's John Krogman taught Statics while Weckmueller taught Engineering Economy.

"This system serves two useful purposes," said Pete Heimdahl, associate dean of the School of Industry and Technology. "It provides a way for Platteville to provide key engineering courses to our students while we at Stout are putting our engineering faculty together. In addition, it supports our pre-engineering agreement with Platteville in which students may take the first two years of the engineering curriculum at one university and finish at the other. Courses which Platteville requires in its first two years, but not offered at Stout, are conducted by distance education and vice versa."

One UW-Stout student took the Statics course in this mode last semester. He will transfer to Platteville this fall to complete his studies in mechanical engineering.

The program will continue this fall with Platteville teaching a section of Mechanics of Materials and one of Statics to Stout students, and Stout again sending Engineering Economy to Platteville. Weckmueller will resume his role, teaching in two locations simultaneously.

Outlook Fall '95