The Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is one of the awardees of the NSF RED Innovation program. The Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) program supports radical changes to the training of undergraduate engineering students to help them establish identities as professional engineers with the technical and professional skills needed to solve the complex problems facing society.
The next generation of engineers needs advanced technical and professional skills to tackle the ever-increasingly complex engineering problems facing our world. Changes to engineering departments' operations, curriculum and teaching practices are expected to better prepare students for the profession. Efforts to implement these changes are often slow due to department cultures or faculty attitudes about the amount of time and work involved. EECS embarked on a journey to implement an innovative approach and aspires to become a department that quickly responds to student and industry needs. This approach applies agile development methods typically used in industry to for fast delivery of best quality products. Agile methods involve working on teams in short development cycles, which allow shared work responsibility, frequent feedback and adjustments between cycles. EECS uses the Scrum agile process to organize how it performs the department operations.
The goal of the RED project is to fundamentally transform the EECS department into an agile department that implements agile processes within the curriculum and academic operations. The specific goals are as follows:
- Graduate agile engineers capable of success within agile and non-agile environments.
- Integrate agile methodology and experiences throughout the core technical courses.
- Utilize evidence-based instructional practices in core technical courses.
- Develop an agile faculty culture that is responsive to student and industry needs and that models agile practices for our students.
- Implement agile methodology into department operations.
- Faculty continuously seek improvement through Scrum methodology implementation.
At the curriculum level, EECS focuses on applying Scrum agile product development approach into courses across the curriculum. The approach allows faculty to achieve faster changes and implementation of prioritized items. Examples include incorporating more evidence-based practices such as just-in-time teaching, case-based teaching, active learning and peer instruction. At the academic operations level, EECS focuses on fostering inclusive learning environments, revising department procedures, and recruiting diverse students and faculty. Through the implementation of Scrum, both faculty and students gain expertise on agile product development and its application in academic operational settings.
Faculty work collectively in Scrum teams to innovate the practices, policies and culture of the department. Students use Scrum in individual and team projects throughout the middle two years of the curriculum to progressively build their expertise for the culminating capstone courses in the senior year. The research uses an explanatory case study design guided by social cognitive theory. Quantitative and qualitative analyses are performed using data from interviews with faculty and students, feedback from stakeholders and artifacts from Scrum teams.
One of the expected outcomes of this RED project is to investigate how the agile processes adoption to department operations enhance faculty and student experiences. The findings will be used to inform other engineering departments about practices to improve the education of a diverse student population to be well-skilled engineers for the workforce. Research results could lead to transformations in engineering education by offering a model on the novel use of Scrum as an agile organizational practice and its influences on the collective efficacy of faculty.
For more information, please contact one of the RED project investigators:
- Dr. Radu Babiceanu
- Dr. Massood Towhidnejad
- Dr. Jay Pembridge
- Dr. Omar Ochoa
RED project artifacts are available on Scholarly Commons.