College of Engineering
2005-2006 Education and Technology Fee (ETF) Fiscal Year Expenditure
Introduction. The College of Engineering received a total of $1,624,200 in ETF
monies in the 2005-2006 Fiscal Year. Of this, $1,526,000 is the college’s regular
allocation. This allocation has remained unchanged since the 01-02 academic year.
The college requested and received a one-time allocation of $88,200 in the fall of 05
to support the ramp up of the Biomedical Engineering program. The Operations
Research program also received $10,000 of ETF funds transferred from PAMS. The
Dean directs the disbursement of ETF funds received by the college to the nine
academic departments within the college, to the Information Technology and
Engineering Computing Services (ITECS) department, to the graduate program in
Operations Research and to the Master of Science in Computer Networking program.
This report is a college-level summary of ETF expenditures. Departmental
expenditure reports in this same format are submitted and kept on file in the college’s
Section I. Categorized ETF Expenditure Summary.
Category Amount Spent % of Total Allocation
Professional Support Staff $274,132.44 16.9
Student-Worker Staff $106,425.66 6.6
IT Infrastructure $743,932.34 45.8
Non-IT Infrastructure $439,756.88 27.1
Facilities $9,458.85 .6
Discipline-related events $939.60 .06
Other/Miscellaneous $49,550.63 3.1
Section II. Justification/Purpose of Expenditures-Strategic Overview
Overview. In the memorandum received from the Vice Provost for IT there is a
statement that reads in part: “In recent years, ETF funds have served to maintain an
element of budget predictability for colleges and ETF-eligible units.” COE
departments and units receiving ETF funds have used these funds primarily to
establish and maintain the infrastructure needed to promote the teaching and learning
that occurs within the college. This infrastructure requires regular and predictable
funds to acquire and maintain the technology, lab equipment, industry exemplars and
supplies used to support and augment the faculty/student relationship. Almost 73%
of the college’s ETF allocation goes into establishing, maintaining and updating the
IT and non-IT teaching laboratory environments throughout the college, with another
23% of the total used for the professional and student support staff necessary to
operate the labs, and design and build the teaching experiments used in the labs.
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New and/or Transformative Initiatives Undertaken with ETF.
a. One of the largest single ETF expenditures is made each year by ITECS to support
and update the college’s eighteen Eos Computer Labs. These labs provide students
with access to 655 computer workstations and a comprehensive set of scientific and
engineering-specific software worth more than a quarter of a million dollars. These
labs are located throughout the physical footprint of the college, making them
convenient for use before, between and after classes, as well as at night and on
weekends. All labs are equipped with a varied mix of operating systems in use within
the college, to include Windows, Red Hat Linux and Solaris UNIX.
b. Despite not yet receiving an annual ETF allocation, the new Biomedical
Engineering department has leveraged its one-time allocation to significantly enhance
student learning in this growing discipline. A large portion of their allocation went
into the design and creation of hands-on tissue engineering experiences for BME
students. Since tissue engineering is not a traditional field of engineering, example
exercises are not available from outside sources and had to be created from scratch.
The department has also used ETF funds to purchase an artificial larynx and to
manufacture several components that model the shape of the voice tract. Students are
now able to personally experience the sensation of speaking with an artificial larynx,
thus increasing their understanding of the function and effects of such devices as they
learn about them in their “Human Physiology for Engineers” course.
c. Another example is also taken from the BME department. Since the department is
a joint department between NCSU and UNC-CH, it educates students at both
institutions. ETF monies were used to acquire oscilloscopes that can be operated over
the Internet, thus enabling students at both locations to use one set of equipment
rather than duplicating it at each campus.
d. The Computer Science department employed ETF funds to provide a special
topics class to undergraduate students interested in grid computing. Grid computing
is believed to be the next major thrust in computing with its focus on increasing
efficiency through distributed allocation of computing resources. Classes were taught
via television by professors from UNC-Charlotte and Western Carolina University
with ETF funds used to provide the necessary video services for students enrolled in
e. The Computer Science department has also been an integral part of redesigning the
college’s “Introduction to Computing” course (E115) which all freshmen are required
to take in their first semester. In the past, this course was designed to introduce the
students to the old Eos Unix-based lab environment. With the college’s emphasis on
leveraging student-owned computers, the course has now been transformed into one
which places primary emphasis on the students becoming the “system administrators”
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for their own machines and learning how to integrate their computers into the college
and university computing environment.
f. The Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering is using
ETF money to design and build manufacturing-based materials laboratories.
Processing of materials considered “difficult to machine” continues to challenge
industry and these laboratories will help ISE students learn the challenges of dealing
with such materials.
g. ISE also acquired a new three-dimensional rapid prototyping system that enables
ISE students to visualize fast run, complex models that can withstand form, fit and
functional tests within larger assemblies and systems. All lab-based and
manufacturing-centric courses (currently 8 different courses) benefit from the
capabilities of this system.
h. The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department is using ETF funds to
create a common one-hour lecture session for each of their primary lab courses,
enabling a single instructor to cover the pre-laboratory instruction in a consistent
format. This has allowed lab sections to be reduced from three hours to two, enabling
more sections to be created and making more efficient use of available ETF funds.
i. The Nuclear Engineering department has made use of ETF funds to purchase
industry grade equipment and software in their labs to avoid the rapid obsolescence
that occurs with “education” grade equipment. This allows students to use equipment
and software they will actually encounter in the field. New labs and lab techniques
are being developed to provide greater use of the equipment throughout the academic
Actions Taken to Improve Efficiency/Return on ETF Investments.
As a general rule of thumb, all academic departments tend to incorporate ETF funds
into their budgets in such a way as to provide maximum opportunities for matching
ETF dollars with other resources such as donated money and/or equipment as well as
pursuing grants such as those offered by the LITRE initiative. Some specific
a. The Biomedical Engineering department has focused on using ETF funds for
building essential laboratory infrastructure instead of buying consumables. They
have also used ETF funds to provide personnel time to develop tissue culture
protocols that will be used repeatedly over the next several years.
b. Chemical Engineering matched much of their ETF allocation with departmental
and private industry-donated funds.
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c. The Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering acquired a
matching grant from the Furniture Manufacturing and Management Center to
purchase their Dimension FDM Rapid Prototyping System described above.
d. The Materials Science and Engineering department used departmental fund
sources to leverage their ETF allocation on a 2:1 basis.
e. The Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department uses a review process to
consider every experiment in every lab to ensure experiments are functional and are
meeting the intended educational objectives. This review process has led to
consideration of supplemental funding mechanisms such as corporate sponsorship or
the creation of an endowment fund to pay for critical, high cost experiments that
cannot be funded exclusively with ETF dollars. In addition, the department submitted
a LITRE grant proposal which was subsequently approved to develop online
interactive modules for undergraduate laboratory preparation which will enable the
department to further leverage the work that was described in the new and
transformative initiatives above.
f. Across the college, assets purchased with ETF funds, particularly computers and
other high value technology items are constantly evaluated for reuse as they are
surplused by the original purchasing department. Only items that are truly obsolete
and of no further use to anyone in the college actually wind up in the surplus
Unmet ETF-eligible Needs
The top priority in this category for the College of Engineering is acquiring a
recurring allocation for the Biomedical Engineering department. A request for such
an allocation was submitted at the same time as the granted one-time request but a
mid-stream change in guidance from the Provost prevented consideration of the
request. The department has requested and provided justification for a recurring
allocation of $31,600.
Each year every department in the college submits a 3 year plan that outlines
recurring and one-time needs that could be funded through ETF. For the 2006-2007
academic year the currently unfunded portion of these plans totals roughly $234,000.
Requests run the gamut from IT infrastructure, mostly in the form of improved
teaching labs, to acquisition of replacement or additional laboratory equipment to
additional support for needed maintenance of existing equipment.
Assessment of Impact of ETF Investments on Student Learning.
As described earlier in this report, ETF funds are viewed by the departments as one of
the very few stable resources devoted to IT and laboratory development and
maintenance. As such much of the assessment is intuitive in nature. As ETF funds
are incorporated in one way or another into almost every teaching laboratory, whether
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computer-based or experiential, the absence of such funding would almost certainly
result in a much-reduced student learning experience. Therefore departments take
care to evaluate those experiences in terms of student outcomes through feedback-
based mechanisms as well as through the evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of the
facilities and experiences provided through the use of ETF funds.
The Biomedical Engineering department is taking the assessment process one step
further by pre-assessing the potential value of new requests in terms of measurable
learning outcomes. The BME ETF committee prioritizes the allocation of ETF funds
based on the predicted value of those outcomes.
Planning and Review Process.
Each department uses an ETF committee consisting of faculty, lab managers, IT staff
and students to craft and evaluate the effectiveness of their department’s ETF plan.
Overall student success is the primary metric used in considering the effectiveness of
the laboratories and other facilities supported by ETF funds.
At least one department also uses its ranking in U.S. News and World Report as an
indicator that it is using ETF funds effectively. Steady advancement in national
rankings is seen as a direct reflection of the uses to which the department has put its
ETF allocations over the past fifteen years.
The descriptive paragraphs of this report represent a set of snapshots of ETF funding
activity throughout the College of Engineering and do not describe the total impact
that ETF funding has on teaching and learning within the college. Each department
incorporates ETF funding as one component of the overall funding scheme for
teaching and learning in their departments. Their submissions in fulfillment of
Section II constitute twenty pages of descriptions of how they are using ETF funds to
generate better student outcomes.
We cannot stress enough the very real need for a recurring ETF allocation for the
Biomedical Engineering department. There is no unencumbered component of the
college’s current allocation that can be redirected to BME without a negative effect
on another department and its students.
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