Lueny Morell on “The icing on the cake” (supplement)

This is a supplemental section accompanying Lueny Morell’s profile. It details her vision of engineering education at New Engineering University at the University of New Haven, where she was Provost & Chief Academic Officer at the time of her interview in 2014.

The icing on the cake

The Learning Factory model, which revamps engineering education, gave me the base for developing a new concept in engineering pedagogy: New Engineering University (NEU).

NEU’s mission: To educate employable, world class engineers through a constructivist learning environment that revolutionizes how students think and feel about engineering education

NEU’s vision: Making engineering “REAL” (Realistic, Enjoyable, Accessible, Lean)

NEU’s core values: At NEU, we believe in providing a learning experience that is

  • Transformational and life changing, leading to employment opportunities
  • Synergistic, as characterized by IWe, meaning than an individual’s power can be raised exponentially with the help of a collaborative team
  • Industry-coupled and practical
  • Affordable and pledged to continuous quality improvement
  • Enjoyable, incorporating fun and motivating learning spaces

NEU’s overarching strategies

Our mission and vision will be accomplished by pursuing the following strategies:

  1. Understanding the needs of our stakeholders and defining the desired competencies of our graduates (knowledge, skills, and values) to develop degrees, certificates, and other learning experiences that reflect how people learn.
  2. Developing engineering and master of engineering degrees in areas at the intersection of industry needs to generate employability and student interest.
  3. Developing innovative and fun learning spaces and experiences for students (and faculty) to acquire knowledge, practical skills, and institutional values.
  4. Building a culture of continual quality improvement, assessing outcomes in order to grow and expand.
  5. Attracting students capable of and interested in completing an engineering degree, particularly underrepresented minorities and women who, for a multitude of reasons unrelated to skill and ability, are choosing other paths.
  6. Offering a learning experience that is more engaging and responsive to student learning styles (smart blend of learning resources, online and through internships), more employer-relevant and practical (project-based learning), and more affordable than traditional engineering programs.
  7. Employing professors who are a smart blend of engineers, educators, innovators, and mentors.

This unique opportunity is allowing me to bring together all the things I have learned over my career, both in industry and in academia, to develop needs- and competency-based programs, in partnership with a prestigious U.S. institution.  At NEU, we are developing programs to cultivate skills that are needed in the workforce. We are using learning-styles inventory research to develop content and learning activities. We are partnering with industry for real-life experiences for both our students and faculty. And we are implementing a learning analytics platform to learn about our institution’s outcomes across all dimensions: academic, administrative, research, and service. It is our goal that the data on key performance indicators will help us make decisions more effectively and continuously improve.

The first program will be a Master of Engineering in Big Data, and the development and implementation model we are using for educating engineers is something that I have the conviction will be propitiously received and valued globally.

Among the unique features of the program is the curriculum. First, we pair an instructional developer with content experts from academia and industry to ensure that the two domains are connected. Next, in keeping with the idea of a competency-based curriculum, we design a matrix of outcomes and teach the skills and competencies needed for those outcomes across the curriculum. Backwards design, parallelism, and constructivism are key concepts to our approach. Courses will be hands-on, practice-based, and will be five weeks long with only 10- to 15-minute lectures followed by an activity. There will also be interdisciplinary components focused on developing competencies across the whole program.