Published in Realizing the New Paradigm for Engineering Education: Proceedings, June 3, 1998, pages 62-65. http://www.engconfintl.org.
NOTE: At the time of publication, the author William Durgin was not yet affiliated with Cal Poly.
In developing the PLAN, WPI sought to address concerns inherent to its then traditional curriculum that was rigid, unresponsive to differences among students, and was compartmentalized by independent departments so that intellectual growth was fragmented.
The PLAN was an entirely new and different educational program responsive to the needs of students and society while nurturing sensitivity to the ideas and values of our society. It included fundamental departures from the traditional elements of technical education including:
A. The achievement of competence rather than the accumulation of credits.
B. Individual freedom and responsibility in planning the program of study.
C. A large component of project and independent study learning.
D. Emphasis on education as a cooperative venture between faculty and students.
Frequently, changes to engineering curricula involve the addition of new material to a well-established body of knowledge. Deciding which components to eliminate becomes the central issue in curricula reform. To adopt and implement the PLAN, the WPI community necessarily employed a more fundamental approach by focusing on learning rather than information transfer. Additionally, the PLAN has been a dynamic entity undergoing continual and substantive revision in the best spirit of continuous improvement. In the following sections the processes invoked in the adoption and revision of the PLAN by the WPI community are outlined in the hope they may help guide other faculties in embracing substantive revision.