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There has been a recent increase in awareness of the important role that community colleges play in educating future engineers, especially in broadening participation among students from underrepresented groups. However, budget problems at the state and national levels have resulted in continuing budget cuts in community colleges. With limited resources while responding to increasing variability of lower-division transfer curricula as required by four-year engineering programs, it has become increasingly difficult for small community college engineering programs to support all the courses needed by students to transfer. Meanwhile, transfer admissions have become increasingly more competitive because of budget cuts in four-year universities. As a result, prospective engineering students who attend community colleges with limited or no engineering course offerings are at a disadvantage for both transfer admission as well as time to completion upon transfer. This paper is a description of a collaborative project among community college engineering programs in California to address this problem by aligning engineering curriculum, enhancing teaching effectiveness using Tablet PCs, and increasing access to engineering courses through online education. The project includes a Summer Engineering Teaching Institute designed to assist community college engineering faculty in developing a Tablet-PC-enhanced model of instruction, and implementing online courses. Themore »
The California Community College system has been very successful in providing affordable and accessible education to diverse student populations by allowing them to complete all of their lower-division course work and then transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. Recent developments, however, have threatened the viability of engineering programs in California community colleges, endangering this very important pipeline in the engineering educational system. The increasing divergence of the lower-division requirements among different four-year institutions and among the different fields of engineering, coupled with the recent State budget crisis has forced many community colleges to cancel low-enrollment classes and high-cost programs including those in engineering. In response to this situation, Cañada College, a federally designated Hispanic-serving institution in the San Francisco Bay Area, has developed an innovative program entitled Online and Networked Education for Students in Transfer Engineering Programs (ONE-STEP). Funded by the National Science Foundation Engineering Education and Centers through the Innovation in Engineering Education and Curriculum, and Infrastructure (IEECI) program, ONE-STEP aims to improve community college engineering education through the use of Tablet-PC and wireless network technologies. The program includes a Summer Engineering Teaching Institute that will assist community college engineering faculty in developing a Tablet-PC-enhancedmore »