In June 2009 the department heads, undergraduate chairs, and curriculum committee chairs in Smith Engineering at Queen’s held a retreat to discuss future directions for the faculty. One of the outcomes from the retreat was the desire to create a sequence of courses in design and professional practice in all years of every undergraduate program. A Curriculum Review Committee (CRC) was created, consisting of representatives from all engineering programs in the faculty of engineering, a student society representative, the Associate Dean, the Director of Program Development, the NSERC Chair in Engineering Design, and members with economics, library, and professionalism expertise. The group was tasked with creating what became known as the Engineering Design and Practice Sequence (EDPS).

The committee has created high-level objectives for each year of the sequence, beginning with an existing engineering practice course, APSC-100, and culminating in the departmental capstone courses. The committee has developed a pair of second year courses that focus on creativity and idea generation, decision making, validation, communications, and professional practice.

The CRC draws on considerable experience in offering project-based courses in a variety of disciplines, including APSC101, 102, 103 (Engineering Practice), APSC 190 (Professional Engineering Skills), MECH212 (Design Techniques), and APSC381 (Fundamentals of Design Engineering. These courses illustrated various ways and means of teaching and learning design and professional skills at both the faculty-wide and departmental levels.

The CRC established high-level objectives to:

  • enhance design and innovation capacity of our students
  • be primarily project based, with appropriate scaffolding in early years to develop project management, design process, teaming, and communications skills
  • incorporate graduate attribute assessment, required by CEAB
  • include most of the CEAB accreditation units required for engineering design
  • ensure that the structure is designed to encourage future multidisciplinary projects
  • encourage professional behaviour and skills
  • use peer mentoring to develop leadership and provide support for early year students

The first two years of the EDPS are delivered by faculty-wide project-based courses APSC-100 and APSC-200/293. The third and fourth years of the sequence are delivered by departments, and tailored to the disciplinary design and practice approaches.

Year Courses Focus
Year 4 Disciplinary Final capstone project integrating technical and professional skills
Year 3 Disciplinary Disciplinary project using design tools and processes
  APSC-221 Engineering economics and project management
Year 2 APSC-200/293 Design, innovation, communications, and professional practice
Year 1 APSC-101, -102, -103 Introduction to problem solving, investigation, design, and professional practice

More detail about this sequence of courses is described in a recent paper:

B. Frank, D. Strong, R. Sellens, L. Clapham, “Progress With The Professional Spine: A Four-Year Engineering Design And Practice Sequence” (PDF, 469 KB), Proceedings of the 8th International CDIO Conference, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia, July 1-4, 2012