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Kurt Becker PhD

Profile Picture

Engineering Education

Professor

Contact Information

Go toOffice Location: ENGR 405C
DialPhone: 435-797-2076
SendEmail: kurt.becker@usu.edu


Educational Background

PhD, Industrial Education, Texas A&M University, 1988
Content and Strategies for Teaching Computer-Aided Drafting
MS, Industrial Education, Sam Houston State University, 1983
The Present and Future of Computer-Aided Drafting in Houston, Texas
BS, Industrial Education, Southeast Missouri State University, 1977

Biography

Kurt Becker is a Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University where his research focus is in the area of engineering design thinking. He currently is working on a National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project quantifying differences between professional expert engineers and engineering students designing. His other areas of research include adult learning cognition, engineering education professional development and technical training. He has extensive international experience working on technical training and engineering projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Labor, USAID. Countries where he has worked include Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Thailand. In addition, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in engineering education for the department.


Teaching Interests

Engineering Education Pedagogy, Assessment and Evaluation, Computer Aided Documentation (Civil, Environmental, Architecture)

Research Interests

Engineering design thinking, engineering education professional development and technical training, adult learning cognition

Awards

Graduate Student Mentor of the Year, 2017

Department of Engineering Education

Researcher of the Year , 2016

Department of Engineering Education

Faculty Service Award, 2015

College of Engineering

Faculty Service Award, 2015

Department of Engineering Education

Advisor of the Year, 2005

Department of Engineering and Technology Education, Utah State University

Researcher of the Year, 2005

Department of Engineering and Technology Education, Utah State University

Teacher of the Year, 2001

Department of Industrial Technology and Education, Utah State University

Advisor of the Year, 2000

College of Engineering, Utah State University

Advisor of the Year, 2000

Department of Industrial Technology and Education, Utah State University

Outstanding Researcher of the Year, 1998

Department of Industrial Technology and Education, Utah State University

Outstanding Young Industrial Technology Teacher of the Year, 1990

Harold Silvius Foundation and The National Association Of Industrial and Technical Teacher Education Association, American Vocational Association

Publications - Abstracts

    Publications - Books & Book Chapters

      Book Chapters

    • Becker, K., Hailey, C., Thomas, M., Custer, R.L, Erekson, T.L, (2008). Chapter 8: Developing Connections in the Engineering Community: Council on Technology Teacher Education Yearbook. Glenco/McGraw-Hill

    * Has not been peer reviewed

    Publications - Fact Sheets

      * Has not been peer reviewed

      Publications - Curriculum

        * Has not been peer reviewed

        Publications - Journal Articles

          Academic Journal

        • Fang, N., Lawanto, O., Goodridge, W.H, Villanueva, I., Becker, K., (2016). A Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Site Program on Engineering Education Research. International Journal of Engineering Education. Vol. 32(5A), pp. 1836-1846, 23:5, 1836-1846.
        • Song, T., Becker, K., Gero, J., Deberard, M.S, Lawanto, O., Reeve, E.M, Merrill, C., (2016). Problem decomposition and recomposition in engineering design: A comparison of design behavior between professional engineers, engineering seniors, and engineering freshmen.. Journal of Technology Education, 27:2, 37-56.
        • Mentzer, N., Becker, K., Sutton, M., (2015). Engineering Design Thinking: High School Students’ Performance and Knowledge. Journal of Engineering Education, 104:4, 417-432.
        • Shaobo, H., Mejia, J.A, Becker, K., Neilson, D., (2015). An alternative instructional approach that meets the Next Generation Science Standards. Journal of STEM Education, 16:1, 31-40.
        • Santoso, H.B, Lawanto, O., Becker, K., Fang, N., Reeve, E.M, (2014). High and Low Computer Self-Efficacy Groups and Their Learning Behavior from Self-Regulated Learning Perspective While Engaged in Interactive Learning Modules. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research (J-PEER), 4:2, 11-28. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/2157-9288.1093
        • Song, T., Becker, K., (2013). Making Recycled Paper: An Engineering Deisgn Challenge . Technology and Engineering Teacher, 72:2, 30-34.
        • Lammi, M., Becker, K., (2013). Engineering Design Thinking. Journal of Technology Education, 24:2, 55-77.
        • Flanigan, R., Becker, K., Stewardson, G.A, (2012). A contemporary pre-service technology education program. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 72:2, 25-29.
        • Becker, K., Park, K., (2011). Integrative approaches among science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects on students’ learning: A meta-analysis. Journal of STEM Education, 12:5&6, 23-37.
        • Mentzer, N., Becker, K., (2010). Academic preparedness as a predictor of achievement in an engineering design challenge. Journal of Technology Education, 22:1, 22-42.
        • Brewer, D.S, Becker, K., (2010). Online Homework Effectiveness for Underprepared and Repeating College Algebra Students. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 29:4, 353-371.
        • Benson, L., Cooper, M., Smith, K., Becker, K., Griffin, H., (2010). Engineering education: Departments, degrees and directions. International Journal of Engineering Education (IJEE) - Special Issue of Journal, 26:5, 1042-1048.
        • Mentzer, N., Becker, K., (2009). Motivation while designing in engineering and technology education impacted by academic preparation. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 46:3, 90-112.
        • Hailey, C., Erekson, T., Becker, K., Thomas, M., (2005). National Center for Engineering and Technology Education. The Technology Teacher, 64:5, 23-26.
        • Becker, K., Maunsaiyat, S., (2004). A Comparison of Students’ Achievement and Attitudes Between Constructivist and Traditional Classroom Environments in Thailand Vocational Electronics Programs. Journal of Vocational Education Research, 29:1, 133.
        • Becker, K., Stewardson, G.A, (2003). Improving international project success. The Journal of Technical Studies, XXIX:1, 51-59.
        • Becker, K., (2002). Constructivism and the use of technology. The Technology Teacher (electronic journal), TTTe
        • Becker, K., Maunsaiyat, S., (2002). Development of an attitude and concept scale toward technology in Bangkok, Thailand. Journal of Technology Education, 13:2, 6.
        • Becker, K., (1999). Extending instructional reach using technology. Journal of Technology Studies, 25:1, 70.
        • Becker, K., Snow, J., (1997). American “KAIZEN” - A perspective on American management theories. Journal of Industrial Technology , 13:1, 9-12.
        • Becker, K., (1996). High mileage challenge. UIEA Journal , 11-12.
        • Becker, K., (1991). Content and strategies for teaching computer-aided drafting. Journal Of Industrial And Technology Educators, 28:2, 38-46.
        • Becker, K., (1988). Organization required for effective integration. Design Graphics World, 12:2, 20-21.
        • Becker, K., (1987). Teaching CAD with limited facilities. Industrial Education Magazine, 76:3, 24-26.
        • Becker, K., (1985). Incorporating CAD into the curriculum. Industrial Education Magazine, 74:4, 16-18.
        • Professional Journal

        • Singer, E., Becker, K., (2013). A single source management system for lean manufacturing. International Journal of Lean Six Sigma, 4:1, 83-103.
        • Becker, K., (2012). A Contemprary Preservice Technology Education Program. Technology and Engineering Teacher, 72:4, 25 - 29.

        * Has not been peer reviewed

        Publications - Literary Journal

          * Has not been peer reviewed

          Publications - MultiMedia

            * Has not been peer reviewed

            Publications - Technical Reports

              * Has not been peer reviewed

              Publications - Translations & Transcripts

                Publications - Other

                  Other

                • Becker, K., (2000). A Manual for Developing Quick Start Projects. (USDOL), Poland Workforce Development Project, 2000, Macedonia PriZMa Project, 2000, Bulgaria Workforce Development Project, 2001.
                • Becker, K., (2000). A Training Manual for Training Methods for Adult Learners. (USDOL), Romania, Project Pledge, 2000 and Bulgaria Workforce Development Project, 2000.

                * Has not been peer reviewed

                Scheduled Teaching

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2018

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2018

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Fall 2017

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2017

                EED 7810 - Research Seminar, Spring 2017

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Fall 2016

                EED 7500 - Internationalizing Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2016

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2016

                EED 7810 - Research Seminar, Spring 2016

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Fall 2015

                EED 7230 - Foundations of Engineering Education, Fall 2015

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2015

                EED 7810 - Research Seminar, Spring 2015

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Fall 2014

                EED 7500 - Internationalizing Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2014

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2014

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2014

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Fall 2013

                ENGR 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Spring 2013

                EED 7810 - Research Seminar, Spring 2013

                ETE 2270 - Computer Engineering Drafting, Fall 2012

                ETE 7990 - Continuing Graduate Advisement, Fall 2012

                ETE 7500 - Internationalizing Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2012

                ETE 3300 - Clinical Experience I, Spring 2012

                ETE 4930 - Independent Study, Spring 2012

                ETE 6930 - Independent Study, Spring 2012

                ETE 3200 - Methods of Teaching Engineering and Technology Education I, Spring 2012

                ETE 4940 - Related Industrial Experience, Spring 2012

                ETE 7810 - Research Seminar, Spring 2012

                ETE 4700 - Student Teaching in Postsecondary Schools, Spring 2012

                ETE 7990 - Continuing Graduate Advisement, Fall 2011

                ETE 3930 - Evaluation of Career and Technical Education, Fall 2011

                ETE 4930 - Independent Study, Fall 2011

                ETE 3900 - Principles and Objectives of Career and Technical Education, Fall 2011

                ETE 4940 - Related Industrial Experience, Fall 2011

                ETE 5910 - Special Problems in Engineering and Technology Education, Fall 2011

                ETE 6440 - Technology and Society, Fall 2011

                ETE 6990 - Continuing Graduate Advisement, Summer 2011

                ETE 4940 - Related Industrial Experience, Summer 2011

                ETE 3300 - CLINICAL EXPER I, Spring 2011

                ETE 7970 - DISSERTATION RSRCH, Spring 2011

                ETE 4930 - INDEPENDENT STUDY, Spring 2011

                ETE 6930 - INDEPENDENT STUDY, Spring 2011

                ETE 3200 - METH TCH ENGR & TECH ED I, Spring 2011

                ETE 6900 - READINGS/CONFERENCE, Spring 2011

                ETE 4940 - RELATED INDUST EXPER, Spring 2011

                ETE 7810 - RESEARCH SEMINAR, Spring 2011

                ETE 5910 - SPEC PROBLEMS IN ETE, Spring 2011

                ETE 4700 - STDNT TCHNG POSTSEC, Spring 2011

                ETE 6440 - TECHNOLOGY & SOCIETY, Spring 2011

                ETE 6990 - Continuing Graduate Advisement, Fall 2010

                ETE 7990 - Continuing Graduate Advisement, Fall 2010

                ETE 7970 - Dissertation Research, Fall 2010

                ETE 3930 - Evaluation of Career and Technical Education, Fall 2010

                ETE 4930 - Independent Study, Fall 2010

                ETE 6930 - Independent Study, Fall 2010

                ETE 6960 - Master's Project, Fall 2010

                ETE 3900 - Principles and Objectives of Career and Technical Education, Fall 2010

                ETE 5920 - Related Technical Training, Fall 2010


                Graduate Students Mentored

                Ryan Barlow, Engineering Education, August 2016
                Yuzhen Luo, Engineering Education, August 2016
                Lilian Almeida, Engineering Education, January 2016
                Murad Mahmoud, Engineering Education, January 2015
                Alex Mejia, Engineering & Technology Education, August 2011 - December 2014
                Stacie Gregory, Engineering & Technology Education, January 2012 - May 2014
                Ting Song, Engineering Education, August 2010 - May 2014
                Matthew Lammi, Engineering & Technology Education, August 2008 - December 2010
                Douglas Walrath, Engineering & Technology Education, August 2005 - May 2008
                Nathan Mentzer, Engineering & Technology Education, August 2005 - May 2008
                David Melton, Engineering & Technology Education, August 2003 - May 2006
                Somchai Maunsaiyat, Engineering & Technology Education, August 1999 - May 2002

                Research Synopsis

                Dr. Kurt Becker is a Professor in the Department of Engineering Education. He has a Ph.D. in Industrial Technology Education from Texas A&M University. He is the current director of the Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER), which examines innovative and effective engineering education practices as well as classroom technologies that advance learning and teaching in engineering. He has worked on National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects exploring engineering design thinking and was Co-PI for the National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (NCETE), which was funded by NSF in 2004 as one of the Centers for Teaching and Learning (CLT). Over an eight-year span, the Center built a community of researchers, leaders, and PhD students to conduct research in emerging engineering and technology education areas.

                Dr. Becker’s areas of research include engineering design thinking, adult learning cognition, engineering education professional development, and technical training. He has extensive international experience working on technical training and engineering projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Labor (USAID). Countries, where he has worked, include Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Thailand. In addition, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in engineering education for the Department.

                Recently, he has been working on expertise in engineering and looking at Expert vs Novice. Understanding the difference between developing learners and an expert target performance is essential to the identification of appropriate learning experiences to move learners along the trajectory to becoming experts. To address this gap in knowledge and provide statistically significant evidence, teams of engineering students from various universities and teams of engineering design experts, are used to quantitatively measure their respective cognition while designing. The research utilizes the protocol analysis method where videos are transcribed, segmented, coded, and analyzed to produce the base data. The understanding of the relationship between design teaching and engineering expert behavior is inadequate. As a consequence, there is insufficient knowledge of the long-term target performance expected as a result of engineering design education. Understanding the differences between developing learners and an expert target performance is essential to the identification of appropriate learning experiences to reduce this performance gap.

                For more information about this research, please contact Dr. Becker by email at kurt.becker@usu.edu or by phone at 435-797-2076.

                National Science Foundation – Research in Engineering Education (REE)

                Quantifying Differences Between Professional Expert Engineers and Engineering Students Designing: Empirical Foundations for Improved Engineering Education.



                PI: Kurt Becker, PhD



                Overview:

                Understanding the difference between developing learners and an expert target performance is essential to the identification of appropriate learning experiences to move learners along the trajectory to becoming experts. However, the design cognition of expert design engineers is inadequately characterized. This project measures and compares the design thinking of engineering students and expert engineers through a study of their cognitive processes while designing. It uses tools and processes developed in previously funded NSF projects to provide a uniform basis for comparing students and experts that is independent of the educational and experiential background of the participants.



                Funding Amount: $311,868
                Duration of Project: September 2015 to August 2018

                Department of Education – USU STARS! GEAR UP II

                Position: College of Engineering Project Coordinator

                Overview:

                The USU STARS! GEAR UP partnership at Utah State University is new, $32.8 million grant to help more than 3000 Utah middle schoolers catch the vision of higher education over a seven-year period. The program targets students in schools where more than 50% of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch.

                The College of Engineering will support the program by providing engineering summer programs for teachers and students in partner school districts. The summer program will target underrepresented 6th to 12th grade students as well as science teachers participating in the project.

                College of Engineering faculty Kurt Becker will lead the engineering effort to train teachers and their students in the area of watershed science and water quality, leading to the development of classroom lessons and applied research activities that can be carried out to meet the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) framework which has engineering as a fundamental part.


                College of Engineering Funding Amount:
                 $1,230,768 (50% of the amount is USU match)
                Duration of Project: September 2015 to August 2022

                Huntsman Environmental Research Center (HERC)

                Position: Engineering Education Coordinator (Ron Sims – PI)


                Overview:

                HERC funding is used to develop environmental engineering curriculum materials for ENGR 2270 – Computer Engineering Drafting. ENGR 2270 is required by all students in biological engineering, environmental engineering, and civil engineering. In the past assignment for this course were structured to meet the need of the civil engineering students and the assignments dealt with topics such as structures, concrete, and roads. As there is a growing number of students in the course from the environmental and biological engineering programs it is important to meet their needs and interests to keep them engaged in the course. To modify the course to meet the needs of the environmental and biological students, this past year we started creating new assignments that focus on environmental and biological engineering topics. Last year we developed six new assignments for use in the class. These assignments are currently being used in the course and include the topics of:

                • Environmental Treatment Plants
                • Environmental medicine - Ankle bone plate
                • Solar Water Heaters
                • Waste Water Treatment – Bio-Filters
                • Photovoltaic Cells
                • Animal and Plant Cells

                Department of Engineering Education Funding Amount: $13,000
                Duration of Project: On-Going since 1993