June 19, 2018

ME 151

ME 151:  Better Tools and Cost Savings for Tomorrow’s Engineers

Decreasing dependence on costly and quickly-outdated textbooks was the driving force behind Colin Reagle’s interest in transitioning Practicum in Engineering to an OER format course.

Reagle explains, “The per student cost for textbooks ranged from an average of $71 per semester to as high as $186.  Moreover, textbooks utilized in the course fade from relevance with each annual software update.  Freshman engineering students often don’t always understand the pace of change with respect to textbooks, software and engineering tools.”

Before engaging in the course OER re-design, several technology hurdles needed to be jumped.  First up was procuring source materials as well as permission to modify and reuse the University of Edinburgh’s “Interactive Introduction to MATLAB.”  Then, the updated MATLAB resource as well as test materials from Autodesk needed to be integrated into the course.

Dr. Oscar Barton, Department Chair, Mechanical Engineering

Reagle’s efforts paid off.  In this case the proof was not in the pudding, but in student surveys which indicated that the number of students using the textbooks dropped, while the number of students utilizing on line resources increased.  Additionally, the students reported that their satisfaction with course materials rose 0.54 points from 3.38 to 3.92.

 “The 4-VA grant gave our department the motivation to undertake a course re-design that didn’t sacrifice our educational objectives and saves money for the students,” concludes Reagle. “That’s a valuable initiative.”