re|course: Transforming Purdue Mechanical Engineering

The Agile Strategy Lipids in the midst of forming teams of students, faculty and staff to transform the School of Mechanical Engineering. Under a National Science Foundation grant, we are experimenting with a new approach to transforming engineering education. Research underscores the challenge. While numerous initiatives have focused on transforming engineering education within the classroom, very few initiatives have targeted transformation at the systems level.

To fill the void, we launched re|course, a five year initiative to transform the Purdue ME learning experience.

Using a theory of change that we have developed in transforming other complex systems, we are now designing “what’s next” for Purdue Mechanical Engineering. During the first year of the grant, our team of researchers, led by Ed Berger and anthropologist Elizabeth Briody, collected extensive data on the interactions taking place among students, faculty and staff within the school. This baseline research pointed to a major opportunity. While faculty and students are intensely focused on activities within the classroom, the learning experience outside the classroom can be re-designed  to become far more productive and powerful.

We are currently focusing on pilot initiatives in four areas:

  • Redesigning faculty office hours to make them more engaging,
  • Expanding opportunities for undergraduate research,
  • Promoting a more creative, interactive culture within the community, and
  • Expanding opportunities for faculty to have lunch with students.

One of our first initiatives, called Rewire ME,  involves a simple step of a monthly Meetup between faculty, staff and students at the Stacked Pickle.  Other pilots are underway, including the ME Unoffice,  Ten minutes of Talent Thursdays (T3), ResearchME, and Learning Lunches.

To accommodate the very tight schedules of everyone involved, we have designed re|course Strategy Sprints.  These session are 30 minutes long, held every two weeks.  Here’s an example of an invitation to a Strategy Sprint. Here’s an invitation to RewreME. You can keep up with re|course on our web site: