From the NSF award abstract:

Through this project, the ECE department is undergoing a transformation to a more agile, less traditional organization able to respond to industry and society needs and sustain innovations. This transformation is being driven by the project’s novel cross-functional, collaborative instructional model for course design and professional formation, called X-teams. X-teams are reshaping the core technical ECE curricula in the middle years through pedagogical approaches that (a) promote design thinking, systems thinking, professional skills such as leadership, and inclusion; (b) contextualize course concepts; and (c) stimulate creative, socio-technical-minded development of ECE technologies for future smart systems. X-teams are also serving as change agents for the rest of the department through communities of practice referred to as Y-circles. Y-circles, comprised of X-team members, faculty, staff, and undergraduate and graduate students in the department, are contributing to an organizational culture that fosters and sustains innovations in engineering education through an agile framework that blends several documented change theories, including collaborative transformation, crucial conversations, and essential tension. Y-circles are engaging in a process of discovery and inquiry to bridge the engineering education research-to-practice gap. Research studies are being conducted to answer questions to understand (1) how educators involved in X-teams use design thinking to create new pedagogical solutions; (2) how professional formation pedagogy in the middle years affects student professional ECE identity development as design thinkers; (3) how ECE students overcome barriers, make choices, and persist along their educational and career paths in the middle years; and (4) the effects of department structures, policies, and procedures on faculty attitudes, motivation and actions. These studies are informing and improving project activities, advancing knowledge, and supporting adaptation by others.

Research Questions:

Instructional Heuristics

What are the characteristics of heuristics that are successful in creating new teaching approaches and assessing student performance?

Student Development and Persistence

In what ways, do emerging identities shape (and reshape) individual perceptions towards ECE? What instructional interventions focused on design thinking are most influential in the development of a professional ECE identity?

Faculty Motivation

Does participating in Y-circle and X-team processes result in more faculty satisfaction and engagement based on Self Determination Theory needs?