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McCahan elected fellow of AAAS Engineering professor cited for contributions to education

November 24, 2006

Source: University of Toronto

Professor Susan McCahan of mechanical engineering is among the 449 members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) to be elected a fellow of the association, an honour recognizing scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The new fellows were announced Nov. 24 in the journal Science.

"I am delighted to be honoured and I feel this is a tribute to the many people who are supporting innovative education at the University of Toronto," McCahan said.

Cited for distinguished contributions and innovations to the education of the next generation of engineers and scientists, McCahan, first-year chair for applied science and engineering, was co-ordinator of Engineering Strategies and Practices (ESP), an innovative new two-course sequence, when it made its debut in the fall of 2003. She was co-ordinator for three years, seeing it through the pilot stages until it was up to full speed, and saw enrolment
soar from 100 students to 1,000.

Designed to foster excitement for engineering through projects that combine creativity and logical methodology, ESP I is a foundational course that uses the engineering design process as the context for developing skills in professional communication, problem solving, independent learning, systems thinking and team dynamics. The role of engineering in society, its relationship with the environment and the potential and importance it holds for people is an ongoing course theme.

The second course, ESP II, is a service learning course. Here the students tackle a design project from beginning to end, learning the basics of project management, how to approach a complex problem and break it down into solvable parts and how to acquire and use information in the design process. Students team up to develop a major design project, and working with a client, go through a complete design process to create a workable solution to meet the client’s needs.

ESP II ties in with the larger university-wide initiative in the area of service learning and the establishment of the office of community partnerships.
"It turned out that in parallel the university was thinking along the same lines we were and it worked out very beautifully, in fact," McCahan said.

Founded in 1848, AAAS is the largest general scientific society worldwide and is publisher of the respected journal Science.



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