Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

American Society for Engineering Education. American Society for Engineering Education, 2010.


The Great Problems Seminars were designed to bring first year engineering students into meaningful contact with current events, societal problems, and human needs. Key learning objectives include: introducing project team work and developing writing and presentation skills. Each seminar has focused on a large global issue: food and hunger, energy and its utilization, health and healthcare delivery, the NAE Grand Challenges. Seminars are co-taught by an interdisciplinary pair: one natural science/engineering instructor and one humanities/social science instructor. The first half of the two-term course sequence explores the depth and breadth of the problem; the second half is devoted to project work. Focus group assessment demonstrates that the GPS courses achieve the original course objectives. Student course evaluations indicate high satisfaction despite requiring significantly more work than traditional first year offerings taught within the disciplines. Comments by former GPS students demonstrate that they value how these courses prepared them for their futures.

Conference Title

ASEE Annual Conference, 2010