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Spring 2017

Letter From The Chair

It has been a pleasure receiving and responding to numerous alumni emails associated with the ABET survey in our Fall 2016 Newsletter. These messages conveyed many reflections on the special value of our Vandal Engineering program, as well as interest in staying connected with current students and their educational activities. Sections of this newsletter also contain other examples of alumni contributions—in lab development, space renovation, and long-standing commitment to industry-based senior design projects. This high level of community engagement is essential for sustaining our quality learning environment and our reputation for excellence in authentic, hands-on engineering education.

Establishing well-founded educational objectives to guide design and delivery of our program is essential for ABET accreditation. It is even more critical for making informed decisions inside and outside the classroom. What follows is a summary of findings from the Program Educational Objective (PEO) survey. Our PEOs consist of five complementary statements of what our graduates should be able to do in the engineering workplace 3-5 years after receiving their degree. These statements are aligned with the five University of Idaho institutional learning outcomes. Nearly 60 respondents who graduated between 1970 and 2015 have already weighed in with their opinions and comments. Their collective wisdom is summarized in the following table and discussion.

PEO #1 aligns with the U of I learning outcome Learn & Integrate, featuring technical skills required for professional performance. Questions raised by respondents about this PEO: What skill areas are especially important in your career and how do these differ from those that characterize the career paths of your classmates? How do application of codes and standards impact this objective statement? What skills are best emphasized in academia and what skills require maturation in the workplace?

PEO #2 aligns with the U of I learning outcome Create & Innovate, emphasizing proficiency navigating a client-driven design process that is guided by sound project management. Questions raised by respondents about this PEO: How do creative ideas spring from analysis of client needs? What is the progression of experience through which one gains leadership responsibility in this area? How should schedule, budget, and quality be managed for stakeholder agreement and for optimal outcomes?

PEO #3 aligns with the U of I learning outcome Communicate, involving verbal, written, and graphical mediums. This was recognized as a key area that reflects on most of the other PEOs. Questions raised by respondents about this PEO: What forms of communication are likely to be most meaningful and impactful in interacting with peers? How is this reflected in exemplary design documentation?

PEO #4 aligns with the U of I learning outcome Purpose & Perspective, underscoring personal initiative in growing professional capabilities and enriching world-views. Questions raised by respondents about this PEO: What are the sub-disciplines where professional licensure is most important? What are the different ways that employees stay current with emerging technology and software? How do you become a subject matter expert?

PEO #5 aligns with the U of I learning outcome Practice Citizenship, including fellowship with others in the workplace, interaction with practitioners outside one’s organization, and service to others in society. While many employers do not care what their employees do in their free time, many respondents felt that attainment of this objective should be distinctive among U of I graduates.

Program Educational Objective (3-5 years post-graduation) Does not Meet Expectations Meets Expectations Exceeds Expectations
1) Graduates will have gained career advancement based on knowledge as well as demonstrated skill in several of the following areas: engineering analysis, modeling/simulation, design, manufacturing, and experimental methods. 2% 69% 31%
2) Graduates will have gained client and stakeholder satisfaction with engineering problem solutions obtained through wise use of time, talent, and budgetary resources. 0% 83% 17%
3) Graduates will have gained recognition as accomplished communicators within their field/industry. 2% 72% 26%
4) Graduates will have gained evidence of continued professional development such as professional licensure, pursuit of graduate study, success in obtaining various certifications, or active participation in technical conference/forums. 2% 57% 41%
5) Graduates will have gained expanded responsibilities for coordinating activities as well as collaborating with others within their organizations, professional community, and/or society at large. 2% 69% 31%

If you would like to add your PEO votes and insights based on your professional experience, the survey link below will remain open through the end of June. Survey Monkey data indicates that the typical respondent finished the survey within five minutes.

As you take time out to complete the survey, do invest some extra time to drop us a line about where you are and what you are doing. We would like to join in celebrating your successes and sharing your stories with the next generation of Vandal Engineers. Help us spread the word by asking fellow ME alums if they have read the newsletter and weighed in with their feedback.

— Steve Beyerlein
Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

In This Newsletter

Learning Environment Improvements


Faculty & Staff


Contact Us

Engineering Physics Building Rm. 324K

Mailing Address:

Mechanical Engineering
University of Idaho
875 Perimeter Drive MS 0902
Moscow, ID 83844-0902

Phone: 208-885-6579

Fax: 208-885-9031