The College of Engineering at Oregon State University, in collaboration with Oregon State Ecampus, aims to shape the future of engineering education with the launch of the Center for Research in Engineering Education Online.
“We intend for Oregon State to build on its position as a premier provider for online engineering education,” said Scott A. Ashford, Kearney Dean of Engineering. “This center will engage our dynamic faculty with support for innovative projects specifically targeted toward the creation of new online courses and programs.”
Dubbed CREEdO by its founders, the center will conduct research, development, and innovation to inform Ecampus’ development of online programs in the field of engineering, said Tom Weller, head of the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and the center’s interim director.
“CREEdO will provide a community, or center of gravity, for engineering education research that is already happening throughout the College of Engineering and leverage that expertise to advance online learning,” Weller said. “Our partnership with Ecampus provides an opportunity to cover the full spectrum, from fundamental research to demonstration to full deployment. That’s an advantage not typically afforded to academic research centers.”
The center also aims to expand access to engineering education, facilitate student success, and continue to improve educational experiences for online students, Weller said.
Ecampus will assist in the selection, planning, and external evaluation of faculty-led research and development projects, as well as consultation and strategic planning for program-level media development, such as lab platforms to be used in courses throughout a program.
Oregon State Ecampus is widely considered one of the country’s best providers of online education. In January, Oregon State’s online bachelor's programs were ranked No. 4 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, scoring its highest marks for the development and training of Oregon State faculty who teach online. The College of Engineering currently offers online degree and certificate programs through Ecampus in computer science, industrial engineering, and radiation health physics.
“Engineering, along with other STEM disciplines, are some of the hardest degree programs to offer online in a high-quality way,” said Shannon Riggs, executive director of academic programs and learning innovation for Ecampus. “Our investment and participation in CREEdO is a great opportunity to overcome those challenges, make significant advances in online education, and improve access to engineering degrees.”
As part of this partnership, the college will develop at least one full degree program for online delivery via Ecampus. Possibilities for program development include a new online master’s in computer science, robotics, artificial intelligence, or renewable energy; or a bachelor’s in mechanical, manufacturing, or civil engineering. Over its first three years, CREEdO funding will support nine research projects related to online teaching and learning in engineering disciplines.
CREEdO’s founders anticipate the new center will also serve as a platform to attract outside funding and to generate partnerships and consortia with other institutions, possibly leading to the development of a multi-university center.
~ Keith Hautala