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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Transforming Education through Integrated Engineering

The Department of Integrated Engineering is the home to a unique project-based learning approach that blends technical, professional, and design learning in the context of industry sponsored projects.  Students enter the program in their junior year after completing introductory science, engineering, math and communication courses, and upon completion of the program, earn a B.S. in Engineering.

Students who earn a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Minnesota State Mankato are ready to tackle complex projects and solve difficult problems in the real world, because that’s exactly what they do as students.  Students learn traditional engineering knowledge and skills in a project-based learning environment.  They work with industry members and others on real-life design projects, with a focus on integrating technical and professional knowledge and competencies. Our two programs—Iron Range Engineering in northern Minnesota and Twin Cities Engineering at Normandale Community College—emphasize innovation, creativity, design, experimental techniques, modeling techniques, and collaboration. At both locations, students are able to tailor their education to emphasize different engineering fields that are of most interest to them.

Project-Based Learning

Learning Engineering by Doing Engineering

Iron Range and Twin Cities Engineering students attain their engineering degree through Project-Based Learning. Before the semester begins, the faculty meet with industry representatives to acquire projects of appropriate scope as well as to work out intellectual property and confidentiality agreements. A team of 2-6 students is formed based on students' interests and needs. The team is assigned a faculty mentor who helps guide the team throughout the semester. Students then meet with industry representatives to determine project deliverables, timelines, and resources. Projects are completed over the course of the semester allowing students to gain valuable industrial and project-based engineering experience along with necessary professional skills. At the end of the project, teams deliver final presentations and supply technical documents and deliverables to the industrial representatives.

A guiding principle of the IRE and TCE Project-Based Learning model is students taking responsibility for their learning. At the beginning of each project, students identify which skills will be addressed during the project. Working with faculty, students determine and apply various learning styles to acquire knowledge from their projects. Throughout the semester, evidence is collected that reflects the learning process and provides evidence of learning. In addition, students give presentations to faculty and external clients to demonstrate their knowledge. Students are frequently motivated by the hands-on nature of their learning.  The final presentation includes an extensive oral exam session in which students demonstrate their understanding of technical engineering knowledge gained and competencies acquired. At the conclusion of each project cycle, students have progressed towards a career in engineering by developing professional, design and technical knowledge and competencies in the context of real world projects.