Mapping the Relationship Between the CDIO Syllabus and the CEAB Graduate Attributes: An Update

Mapping the Relationship Between the CDIO Syllabus and the CEAB Graduate Attributes: An Update

Guy Cloutier (École Polytechnique de Montréal, Canada), Ronald Hugo (University of Calgary, Canada) and Rick Sellens (Queen’s University at Kingston, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/ijqaete.2012040104
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The recently introduced Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB) requirements for Graduate Attributes require demonstrated learning outcomes for the first time. The Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate (CDIO) approach includes a set of outcomes in the form of the CDIO Syllabus. The Syllabus also provides guidance on how to document outcomes in order to meet the requirements of the CEAB Graduate Attributes. This article provides a framework for Canadian engineering programs to satisfy the CEAB requirement to demonstrate learning outcomes through a mapping of the CDIO Syllabus topics to the CEAB Attributes, and verification of the completeness of that list. An engineering program can meet all of the CEAB Graduate Attribute requirements by addressing a subset of the CDIO syllabus; however, a CEAB accredited program may not meet all of the CDIO standards.
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The CDIO (Conceive, Design, Implement, Operate) approach is an international initiative in engineering education developed over the last decade and focused on the principle that the professional engineering practice of conceiving, designing, implementing, and operating practical products, processes and systems must provide the context of engineering education (Crawley et al., 2007) ( The 12 CDIO Standards provide a framework for evaluation and continuous improvement of engineering programs.

CDIO Standard 2 stipulates learning outcomes based on a syllabus that has been validated by program stakeholders and most CDIO programs have used the CDIO Syllabus (version 1) as the basis for developing their own outcomes. Version 2.0 of the Syllabus, presented in its final form at 2011 CDIO International Conference (Crawley et al., 2011), is the first major revision of the original. The mapping presented here replicates much of the content of the original (Cloutier et al., 2010) for completeness sake while incorporating the changes adopted in version 2.0 of the Syllabus.

CDIO is not the only engineering education initiative developing outcomes based approaches and most national and international accreditation organizations are moving towards approaches that are compatible with the CDIO Syllabus. The Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board published new guidelines in 2008 (Engineers Canada, 2008), including a set of attributes specifying general program outcomes for the first time, while still retaining criteria based on instructional hours and content. Section 3.1 of the guidelines specifies a set of twelve Graduate Attributes that all students should have on completion of an accredited program in engineering. They are:

  • 3.1.1 A knowledge base for engineering

  • 3.1.2 Problem analysis

  • 3.1.3 Investigation

  • 3.1.4 Design

  • 3.1.5 Use of engineering tools

  • 3.1.6 Individual and team work

  • 3.1.7 Communication skills

  • 3.1.8 Professionalism

  • 3.1.9 Impact of engineering on society and the environment

  • 3.1.10 Ethics and equity

  • 3.1.11 Economics and project management

  • 3.1.12 Life-long learning

All of them elaborate on demonstrated competence, an ability, or an understanding without detailing the level to be attained in each particular aspect. This leaves room for individual institutions to establish their own priorities among the attributes as long as all are adequately addressed, usually within the context of complex problems.

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