Student Learning Outcome Assessment Report
1. Department/Program Mission
The mission of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering is –
to build and enhance the excellent public program that the Department of
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering currently is, and to be recognized as
to provide our students with experiences in solving open-ended problems of
industrial and societal need through learned skills in integrating engineering
sciences, and synthesizing and developing useful products and processes;
to provide experiences in leadership, teamwork, communications — oral, written
and graphic —, and hands-on activities, with the help of structured and
unstructured real-life projects.
2. Student Learning Outcomes (SLO)
a. Campus-Wide Student Learning Outcomes:
Programs must demonstrate that their graduates have:
I. an ability to communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
II. an ability to think critically and analyze effectively.
III. an ability to apply disciplinary knowledge and skills in solving critical
IV. an ability to function in diverse learning and working environments.
V. an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility.
VI. an awareness of national and global contemporary issues.
VII. a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in, life-long
b. ME Program Outcomes
The ME program has for many years been assessing program outcomes based on
ABET terminology. The current ME program outcomes are specified below.
Students graduating from this program should have:
(a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, and engineering
(b) an ability to design and conduct experiments, as well as to analyze and interpret
(c) an ability to design a system, component, or process to meet desired needs within
realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical,
health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability
(d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams
(e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve engineering problems
(f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibility
(g) an ability to communicate effectively
(h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions
in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context
(i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning
(j) a knowledge of contemporary issues
(k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools necessary for
(l) an ability to work professionally in both thermal and mechanical systems areas
c. Mapping Between Campus Learning Outcomes and ME Program Outcomes
The Campus Learning Outcomes and the ME Program Outcomes are very
compatible. To avoid duplication of effort and confusion of assessment processes,
the ME program will continue to assess and document the ME Program Outcomes.
Table 1 shows the correlation between the two sets of outcomes. Five of them are
almost exact matches. Two of the Campus Learning Outcomes are addressed by
multiple ME Program Outcomes. By satisfying the ME Program Outcomes, the
Campus Learning Outcomes will inherently be satisfied.
Table 1. Correlation of Campus Learning Outcomes
to ME Program Outcomes
Learning Outcome ME Program Outcome
2 b, e
3 a, c, e, k
3. Curriculum Mapping to Campus and/or Program Outcomes
Table 2 shows a correlation between specific Mechanical Engineering courses in the
curriculum and the Outcomes. A similar correlation is given for Non-ME required
courses in Table 3. This correlation is particularly important in addressing any
assessed weaknesses in specific Outcomes, by indicating which parts of the
curriculum are most directly relevant in affecting the particular Outcome. This table
demonstrates that the majority of the required courses are expected to contribute to
multiple Outcomes, and each Outcome is to be satisfied by many different courses.
Table 2. Correlation of Curriculum with Outcomes
ME Required Courses
Required Courses a b c d e f g h i j k l
ME 153 Intro to Manufact. Process x x x x x
ME 160 Dynamics x x x
ME 161 Intro to Design x x x x x x
ME 208 Machine Design x x x x x x x x x
ME 211 Linear Systems in ME x x x
ME 213 Machine Dynamics x x x x x x
ME 219 Thermodynamics x x x x x x x
ME 221 Applied Thermodynamics x x x x x x x x x
ME 225 Heat Transfer x x x
ME 231Thermofluid Mechanics I x x
ME 240 Mech. Instrument. Lab x x x x x x x x x x
ME 242 ME Systems Lab x x x x x x x x x x
ME 261 Engineering Design x x x x x x x x x x x x
ME 279 Auto. Control of Mech. Syst. x x x x
ME 280 Control Systems Lab x x x x x x x x x x
Table 3. Correlation of Curriculum with Outcomes
Non-ME Required Courses
Courses a b c d e f g h i j k l
Engl 20 Composition X X X
Communication Elective X X X X
History elective X X X X
Economics elective X X X X
Literature elective X X X
Hum/Soc. Sc. elective X
Adv. Hum/Soc. Sc. elective X
Math 14 Calculus I X X X
Math 15 Calculus II X X X
Math 22 Calculus III X X X
Math 204 Differential Eqns. X X X
Math/Stat elective X X X X
CSc 73/74 Basic Sci Program. X X X
CSc 77/78 Comp Prog. Lab X X X
Chem 1 General Chemistry X X X
Chem 2 Gen. Chemistry Lab X X X X X
Phys 23 Engineering Physics I X X X X X X
Phys 24 Engineering Phys II X X X X X X
EE 281 Electrical Circuits X X X
FE 10 Study & Career in Eng. X X X X X X X
IDE 20 Eng Design w/ Comp X X X X X X X X X X
EMgt 124 Principles of Eng. Mgt X X X X X X X X
EMgt 137 Econ. of Eng. Proj. X X X X
Met 121 Metallurgy for Eng X X X X
IDE 50 Statics X X X X X
IDE 110 Mech of Materials X X X X X
IDE 120 Materials Lab X X X X X X X
The Mechanical Engineering Program is designed to prepare students for professional
practice in a broad spectrum of industries and environments. The curriculum focuses
on fundamentals, taught from a first-principles approach, complemented with a
regular opportunity to engage in practical and experiential endeavors. The first-
principles approach is important to prepare the graduates to be able to continue
learning as they encounter new methods and technologies in their careers. The
experiential aspect of the curriculum helps bridge the classic gap between academic
knowledge and real-world engineering practice.
From the beginning of the curriculum to the end, students are oriented toward
professional practice. In the Study & Careers in Engineering course (FE 10), the
students are exposed to the practice of engineering, the various disciplines, the
working environment, and the professional role and responsibility of the engineer.
The curriculum includes course work in engineering management, including various
topics relevant to the professional interactions within an engineering team and a
corporate environment. The senior capstone course includes a series of lectures,
mostly by practicing engineers, covering various professional topics, e.g. ethics,
intellectual property, environmental considerations, codes and standards, benefits and
4. Methods/Instruments and Administration
The ME program utilizes multiple assessment instruments to assess the outcomes.
The primary assessment instruments are (a) direct measurements from specific course
assignments, (b) a graduating senior exit exam, and (c) the Fundamentals of
Engineering exam. Indirect survey instruments of graduating seniors and alumni are
also used as checkpoints.
Table 4 shows the ME Program Outcomes subdivided into more specific measurable
performance criteria. Also shown in the table for each performance criteria are the
direct assessment instrument and the acceptable performance metric. For a given
outcome to be considered achieved, all performance metrics must be met for all of the
performance criteria associated with the outcome.
Table 5 summarizes for each campus outcome the specific performance criteria
utilized, the type of evaluation tool, and whether the performance criteria and
outcomes met the acceptable performance metric. This table was generated from data
obtained in the spring of 2010. Additional data was gathered at the end of the Fall
2010 semester, but has not yet been organized and evaluated.
Table 4. Direct Measures of Outcomes for Mechanical Engineering
Outcome Performance Criterion Assessment Instrument Performance Metric
FE exam. Exit Exam, FE: average ≥ to national rates.
Ability to apply algebra, trig, calculus, and ordinary
a.1 problems come from math Exit Exam: 90% of students
differential equations in modeling engineering problems.
courses correctly answer ≥ 50%.
FE exam. Exit Exam, FE: average ≥ to national rates.
an ability to apply Ability to identify and apply pertinent principles of science to
a.2 problems come from chem Exit Exam: 90% of students
a knowledge of mathematics, engineering applications.
and physics courses correctly answer ≥ 50%.
science, and engineering.
FE exam. Exit Exam,
Ability to apply the fundamental concepts of each of the FE: average ≥ to national rates.
problems come from ME 160,
a.3 engineering topics including thermodynamics, heat transfer, Exit Exam: 90% of students
208, 211, 213, 219, 225, 231,
fluids, machine design, dynamics, and controls. correctly answer ≥ 50%.
an ability to design and Ability to design an experiment to measure a certain concept ME 242 grade on design of
b.1 90% of students grade ≥ C
conduct experiments, as or phenomena. experiment assignment
b well as to analyze and ME 242 grade on last
b.2 Ability to acquire, analyze and interpret experimental data. 90% of students grade ≥ C
interpret data. experiment report
ME 261, problem statement
an ability to design a c.1 Ability to formulate a problem statement. assignment, score based on 90% of students grade ≥ C
system, component, or rubric
process to meet desired need ME 261, mid semester design
c.2 Ability to generate conceptual design solutions. 90% of students grade ≥ C
within realistic constraints review, score based on rubric
c such as economic,
c.3 Ability to bring a final design to realization.
ME 261, final report, score
90% of students grade ≥ C
environmental, social, based on rubric
political, ethical, health and ME 261, final presentation
safety, manufacturability, evaluation by panel of
and sustainability. c.4 Ability to recognize and address realistic constraint issues. 90% of students grade ≥ C
industry evaluators, score
based on rubric
Actively participates in and effectively contributes to team 90% of students≥ "meets
d.1 ME 261 peer evaluation
Ability to function on multi- assignments. expectations"
d disciplinary teams. 90% of students≥ "meets
d.2 Ability to lead and/or follow as appropriate in a team setting. ME 261 peer evaluation
an ability to identify, Ability to identify, formulate, and solve an appropriate
Exit Exam, word problems 90% of students correctly
e formulate, and solve e.1 mathematical model that represents an engineering problem
from a.3 courses answer ≥ 50%.
engineering problems. from a descriptive statement.
Recognizes the ethically salient features of dilemmas and can Exit Exam, questions from 90% of students correctly
an understanding of f.1
suggest options for the ethical resolution of dilemmas. ethics professor answer ≥ 50%.
f professional and ethical
Familiarity with the Code of Ethics for Engineers as Exit Exam, questions from 90% of students correctly
published by NSPE. Code of Ethics answer ≥ 50%.
ME 242, oral report, score
g.1 Effectively communicates in oral presentations. 90% of students grade ≥ C
an ability to communicate based on rubric
g effectively. ME 242, grade on last lab
g.2 Effectively communicates in written technical reports. 90% of students grade ≥ C
the broad education Ability to relate engineering issues within an historical Exit Exam, questions from 90% of students correctly
necessary to understand the context. H/SS faculty answer ≥ 50%.
impact of engineering
h solutions in a global,
Ability to critically analyze the impacts of engineering
Exit Exam, questions from 90% of students correctly
h.2 solutions in global, economic, environmental, and societal
economic, environmental, H/SS faculty answer ≥ 50%.
and societal context.
Recognizes the value of pursuing advanced educational 90% of students "expect to
i.1 Senior exit survey, intention
opportunities. pursue advanced education".
a recognition of the need 90% of students "expect to
Recognizes the value of engagement with the technical
i for, and an ability to engage i.2
Senior exit survey, intention engage with technical
in life-long learning. community".
ME 261, Section of final
Ability to conduct literature survey or background study to
i.3 90% of students grade ≥ C
pursue a given project. report, score based on rubric
Demonstrates awareness and knowledge of critical Exit Exam, questions from 90% of students correctly
a knowledge of contemporary issues relevant to engineering. H/SS faculty answer ≥ 50%.
j contemporary issues. Exit Exam, questions from
Demonstrates awareness of current affairs at the national and 90% of students correctly
global level. current news items answer ≥ 50%.
(ME 211, 219, 213, 225, or
Ability to use modern software packages in modeling and
an ability to use the k.1 280), grade on specific 90% of students grade ≥ C
solving engineering problems.
techniques, skills, and assignments
k modern engineering tools
Ability to acquire experimental data using data acquisition ME 240, grade on design of
90% of students grade ≥ C
necessary for engineering and instrumentation experiment project
practice. ME 161, pass rate on CAD
k.3 Ability to use CAD software. 90% of students pass
Exit Exam, collective score
Ability to apply fundamental concepts from thermodynamics, 90% of students correctly
an ability to work l.1 on problems from ME 219,
heat transfer, and fluids answer ≥ 50%.
professionally in both 225, and 231
l thermal and mechanical Exit Exam, collective score
Ability to apply fundamental concepts from machine design, 90% of students correctly
systems areas. l.2 on problems from ME 208,
dynamics, and controls answer ≥ 50%.
211, 213, and 279
Table 5. Program Outcomes Assessment Methods and Administration
Assessed Spring 2010. Evaluated Fall 2010.
Measure/ Data Results
Learning Administered Criterion Outcome Recommendations
Performance Collection Reviewed
Outcomes by achieved? achieved? (See Section 5)
Criteria Method by
g.1 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
g.2 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
b.1 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
Outcome Course No
b.2 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
e.1 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
a.1 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
a.2 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
a.3 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
c.1 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
c.2 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
c.3 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
Outcome assignment No
c.4 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
e.1 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
N/A N/A N/A None
Course Evaluate for action
k.2 faculty Assoc. chair No
k.3 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
d.1 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
4 d.2 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
f.1 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
5 f.2 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
j.1 Exit exam faculty faculty Yes Calibrate exit exam
6 j.2 Exit exam faculty faculty Yes Calibrate exit exam
i.1 Exit exam faculty faculty No Calibrate exit exam
7 i.2 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
i.3 faculty Assoc. chair Yes None
5. Results and Changes Implemented or Planned
The exit exam and the course-based direct assessment instruments are new, and are
utilized to assess many of the outcomes. As was anticipated, after the first assessment
cycle, it is more important to evaluate and calibrate the instruments than to try to
draw conclusions regarding achievement of the outcomes. Consequently, the
indications of whether the outcomes were achieved in Table 5 are not particularly
meaningful at this time and will not be itemized. Analysis of the results pointed out
An example of one of these issues is that the scores from several of the course-related
assessment instruments were generally very high. Some of this is due to the nature of
grading on project-based assignments and on presentation skills. More rigorous
rubric-based assessment guidelines are being developed for the more subjective
assessment tools. This is expected to provide more valuable feedback regarding
specific areas needing attention. This issue also pointed out the value of tracking the
average scores in addition to the minimum Performance Metric, in order to determine
areas for improvement, even when the minimum metric is achieved. An example is
Performance Criteria i.3, relative to an ability to conduct a literature survey or
background study. Though the Performance Metric is satisfied with 95% of the
students achieving greater than the required rubric score of 2, it is clear from
comparison of the average scores that this is the lowest scoring area. Accordingly, it
will be targeted as an area to improve.
The scores from the first Exit Exam were found to be generally lower than hoped.
While it is desirable for the exam to be sufficiently rigorous to focus attention where
needed, the students’ performance appears to indicate even the best students
performed below many of the target performance metrics. The faculty endeavored to
generate questions that were realistically expected to reflect knowledge and
understanding that should be retained even years after covering the material. For a
new comprehensive, concept-focused exam, it is necessary to validate and calibrate
the exam itself before using the results to make significant changes in the curriculum.
Initial observation of the exit exam data shows several questions in which the
percentage of correct answers is exceptionally low, even under 5% in a few cases.
These questions certainly warrant close scrutiny to validate that they are clear and
accurate. Since the number of questions in any particular category is small,
sometimes as low as four, any anomalies in the makeup of the questions can have
significant impact on the percentage of students achieving the performance metric.
Another issue regarding the validity of the Exit Exam results is whether the students
took it seriously. There was no penalty for poor performance. Observations at the
time of the exam administration indicated that the students were anxious to finish and
move on to other assignments. While the exam questions were designed to need little
calculation, many of them do need some thought. The eventual plan is to link the
exam performance to a portion of the grade for the capstone design course to provide
an incentive for the students to put forth their best effort. The original plan was not to
associate the exam with the students’ grades until the exam had been validated. It
turned out that it is very difficult to validate the exam without first making it clear to
the students that it will have an impact on their grades. For the second administration
of the exam, students were informed that a reasonable performance indicating a good-
faith effort was mandatory to receive a final grade for the capstone design course.
Screening of the exam results indicated that all of the students made an effort to
complete the exam.
Statistical data from each question and from specific sets of questions have been
generated through custom programming by campus Testing Center personnel.
Statistical information from specific questions was sent back to the appropriate
committee of instructors that generated the questions. The committees evaluated the
data to determine if the questions were believed to accurately reflect the knowledge
expected. Revisions were made to improve the clarity of the questions, to eliminate
or revise questions (or answer choices) that are deemed to be ambiguous, and to hone
in on questions better targeted to determine desired information. The faculty is
convinced that the Exit Exam will be an excellent assessment tool that will provide
much greater feedback to the curriculum than has been available from the FE exam.
Accordingly, significant effort is being devoted to working out the details. In the
meanwhile, though the current metrics are not very meaningful regarding whether the
outcomes have been achieved, a substantially new system of direct measurements is
now in place.
The revised exam was administered at the end of the Fall 2010 semester. Initial
screening of overall results indicates significant improvement from the first
administration. The exam statistics will be organized and evaluated by the faculty for
continued improvement and calibration of the exam during the Spring 2011 semester.
After the Spring 2011 exam is administered, the faculty will evaluate all the
assessment data during its annual assessment meeting in Fall 2011.
b. Use of results
As explained in the previous section, the action items associated with this assessment
cycle are focused on improvement and calibration of the new assessment tools. The
following actions are underway:
Implement more rigorous rubric-based evaluations of the assessment tools
associated with course assignments, particularly in ME 242 and ME 261.
Evaluate and improve the exit exam to ensure its validity as an assessment
tool. The first round has already been done for the second administration of
the exam. Another round will be undertaken in the spring of 2011.