Introducing Systems Thinking to the Engineer of 2020

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2011-06-01
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Rehmann, Chris
Associate Professor
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Rover, Diane
University Professor
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Mickelson, Steven
Professor and Special Advisor for Student Information Systems
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Brumm, Thomas
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

History
In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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1905–present

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering
Abstract

To prepare the engineer of 2020 to address the grand challenges of engineering, the E2020 Scholars Program at Iowa State University seeks to have students become proficient in four pillar areas: leadership, innovation, global awareness, and systems thinking. Each pillar is introduced in three weeks in a freshman-level seminar and reinforced in half of a semester in a year-long sophomore-level seminar. Students applied systems thinking to grand challenge problems by considering factors inside and outside of engineering and using three graphical tools. They identified connections between elements with rich pictures, explained relationships with causal loop diagrams, and sketched the behavior over time of key variables in the system. Qualitative observations and quantitative assessments suggest that the initial offerings were mostly successful: Most students stated that the activities helped them to appreciate the range of issues affecting an engineering problem. Students struggled most with identifying key variables and deriving the behavior over time from causal loop diagrams.

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This proceeding is from Proceedings of the 2010 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Meeting & Exposition.

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Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011