Using seismometers as a catalyst for learning, the IRIS Consortium has partnered with the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to intensively expose the 2002 CSM freshman engineering class to geophysics instrument design. These students worked to design inexpensive seismic recording systems for use in educational environments as part of the Engineering Practices Introductory Course Sequence (EPICS).
Through the EPICS courses, CSM strives to strengthen the ability of first-year engineering students to resolve open-ended problems in a team environment and learn skills that are vital to their success as engineers. Students learn AutoCAD, technical drawing/drafting skills, prototyping, analysis skills, and communication skills necessary to present and promote engineering design solutions to the professional community. These engineering skills, introduced through coursework, are applied to an open-ended engineering challenge throughout the semester. Although the CSM faculty clearly has skills and expertise in engineering, as well as the pedagogy to deliver this information, the program needs exciting, real-world engineering challenges, technical support to develop the problem, and the human resources and experience to provide students with sufficient content knowledge to attempt the challenge.