CDIO Standards and Quality Assurance: From Application to Accreditation

CDIO Standards and Quality Assurance: From Application to Accreditation

Peter J. Gray (United States Naval Academy, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2012040101
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Abstract

With Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) approach collaborating institutions and programs in many countries and regions of the world, it is essential that the International CDIO Leadership Council promulgate processes to assure internal and external stakeholders that member institutions and programs are adhering to the 12 CDIO Standards. The Standards are what make CDIO a unique initiative in that they provide a vehicle for realizing the CDIO vision to transform the culture of engineering education. Therefore, the CDIO Council has developed five quality assurance processes that begin with the application to become a CDIO Collaborator and include self-evaluation, certification, and accreditation based on the CDIO Standards. This article discusses the CDIO quality assurance processes and the other articles in this special issue provide case studies and other examples related to the use of the processes by CDIO collaborators.
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Introduction

In the 1980s and 1990s, engineering leaders in industry and government, along with university program leaders began to discuss improvements needed in engineering education. These discussions were stimulated by the realization that over the preceding twenty to thirty years engineering education programs had evolved from being practice-based to an engineering science-based model. The intended consequence of this change was to offer students a rigorous, scientific foundation that would equip them to address unknown future technical challenges. The unintended consequence was a shift in the culture and context of engineering education. This shift diminished the perceived value of key skills and attitudes that in the past had been the hallmark of engineering, and were still critical to practice. As a result, engineering education and real-world demands on engineers drifted apart over the last 50 years (Crawley et al., 2007).

Realizing that this widening gap must be closed, leading engineering schools across the globe established the Conceive-Design-Implement-Operate (CDIO) approach as a worldwide collaborative intended to foster a new vision of engineering education. Begun in the early 2000’s, CDIO has as its vision to transform the culture of engineering education, producing a new synthesis of engineering science and practice, informed by scholarship on learning (extensive information about CDIO may be found at http://www.cdio.org/).

CDIO is based on a commonly shared premise that engineering graduates should be able to Conceive–Design–Implement–Operate complex value-added engineering systems in a modern team-based engineering environment to create systems and products. CDIO thus offers an education model stressing engineering fundamentals, set in the context of the conceiving, designing, implementing and operating process. In this regard, CDIO’s goals are to educate:

  • Students to master a deeper working knowledge of the technical fundamentals,

  • Engineers to lead in the creation and operation of new products and system, and

  • Future researchers to understand the importance and strategic value of their work.

The CDIO approach was specifically designed as a template that can be adapted and adopted by any university engineering school. Because CDIO is an open architecture model, it is available to all university programs to adapt to their specific needs. By 2010, there were over 50 collaborating institutions in more than 25 countries worldwide in CDIO including a number of programs outside traditional engineering disciplines. Participating universities and programs, so called collaborators, regularly develop materials and approaches to share with others. CDIO collaborators have assembled a unique development team of curriculum, teaching and learning, assessment, design and build, and communications professionals. They are helping others to adopt CDIO in their institutions through open and accessible channels for disseminating and exchanging resources.

An international CDIO Leadership Council oversees CDIO’s operation and is responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures related to the CDIO approach. In January 2004, the CDIO Council adopted 12 standards to describe CDIO programs. These guiding principles were developed in response to program leaders, alumni, and industrial partners who wanted to know how they would recognize CDIO programs and their graduates. As a result, the CDIO Standards serve as guidelines for program implementation and self-evaluation and as such provide a framework for continuous improvement. In addition, they serve as benchmarks and goals for evaluating the worldwide adoption of the CDIO approach.

With so many collaborators in so many countries and regions of the world it is essential that the CDIO Council promulgate processes to assure internal and external stakeholders that member institutions and programs are adhering to the 12 CDIO Standards. The standards are what make CDIO a unique approach in that they provide a vehicle for realizing the CDIO vision to transform the culture of engineering education. Therefore, the CDIO Council has developed five quality assurance processes that answer the following questions:

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