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New engineering courseware cited for engineering education innovation


BLACKSBURG, Va., Nov. 19, 2009 – The 2009 Premier Award for Excellence in Engineering Education Courseware was awarded to two groups for new products called SIMSE and CATME/Team-Maker, according to Joseph G. Tront, Virginia Tech professor of electrical and computer engineering and the editor of the Premier Award program.

The Premier Award competition, hosted by the NEEDS/Engineering Pathway digital libraries, is open to a wide range of submissions of "high-quality, non-commercial courseware designed to enhance engineering education," Tront, the co-principal investigator of the Engineering Pathway digital library, said. Engineering Pathway provides a digital library of engineering teaching resources to the K-12 education and higher education communities.

Tront explained SimSE is a game-based educational software engineering simulation environment that allows students to practice “virtual” software engineering processes in a graphical, interactive, and fun setting. Its designers are a team from the University of California at Irvine led by project scientist Emily Navarro who was assisted by André van der Hoek.

The second winning team created The Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness (CATME)/Team-Maker. It is an integrated and well-tested system that helps manage teams in engineering courses, Tront said. Team-Maker is a tool for forming teams using instructors’ criteria, which helps instructors save time and effort in creating balanced teams, he added.

Matthew W. Ohland of Purdue University led this effort and was joined by a team of developers including: Lisa G. Bullard and Richard M. Felder, North Carolina State University; Cynthia J. Finelli, University of Michigan; Richard A. Layton, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology; Misty L. Loughry, Georgia Southern University; Hal R. Pomeranz, Deer Run Associates; and Douglas G. Schmucker, Zahl-Ford, Inc.

Both pieces of software are available online. The effort to build the Engineering Pathway and to host the Premier Award competition is collaboration between faculty at Virginia Tech and faculty at the University of California at Berkeley. Alice Agogino at Berkeley is the principle investigator for the Engineering Pathway; and Tront at Virginia Tech. The Premier Award program has been underway for 13 years and has honored 24 winners over this time.