Personalized Engineering Education for the 21st Century – A Competency-based Approach

Farrokh Mistee, Jitesh H. Panchal, Dirk Schaefer, Janet K. Allen, Sammy Haroon, Zahed Siddique

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


With increasing globalization and twenty-first-century trends such as
the personalization and commoditization of technology, individuals are required
to refresh and adapt their competencies continuously and keep their knowledge
current. The changing environment and the diverse learning needs of individuals
require a change in the existing paradigm of engineering education. What is needed is a more flexible, learner-centric paradigm that, among other things, instills in
individuals the habit of being self-directed lifelong learners. The proposed
approach to addressing the changing needs of engineering education is based on
mass customization. In this chapter, the development of this approach over the last
decade is traced. Other foundational principles in this approach include focusing on
competency- based learning rather than one-size-fits-all content delivery, shifting
the role of the instructors to orchestrators of learning, shifting the role of students to
active learners, shifting the focus from the lower cognitive levels of learning to the
upper levels, creating learning communities, embedding flexibility in courses,
leveraging diversity, making students aware of the learning process, scaffolding,
and enabling students to make decisions where all information may not be available.
In this chapter, an overview of the implementation of this approach in graduate level
engineering design courses is presented for courses offered in three different
settings, (a) mass customization of content within a single course, (b) mass collaboration
of students in distributed settings, and (c) jointly offered cross-institutional
courses with distance learning students. The implementation details include technical
themes for the different courses, the course architecture (activities and their
interdependencies), the assignments, learning modules, team formation, end-ofsemester
deliverables, and self-assessment.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCurriculum Models for the 21st Century
Subtitle of host publicationUsing Learning Technologies in Higher Education
EditorsM. Gosper, D. Ifenthaler
ISBN (Print)978-4614-7365-7
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Personalized Learning
  • Competency-based education
  • Mass customisation
  • Design education
  • Learning organizations
  • Continous learning
  • active learning


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