Experiential learning is essential in higher education, especially engineering and engineering technology. This paper explores how one program at Oklahoma State University utilizes experiential learning throughout the program to allow students to better grasp concepts through understanding theory and application in laboratory activities. This approach to learning throughout the Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology program prepares graduates for careers in risk control positions. This paper discusses students’ experiences in classes, how the curriculum is assessed at both the course and program levels, and how virtual environments and experiences can provide additional paths forward in higher education. 


Virginia Charter

Virginia Charter is an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the Oklahoma State University Fire Protection & Safety Engineering Technology program (OSU). She is the Chair of the Higher Education Committee for the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. Virginia's professional experiences include fire protection engineering and training. She applies her professional experiences to the classroom emphasizing hands-on applications to supplement engineering theory and knowledge. Virginia's research interests include fire protection system effectiveness, the application of codes and standards, and engineering education. She earned a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety Engineering Technology from OSU, an M.S. in Fire Protection Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Studies-Higher Education from OSU.

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson is a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Fire Protection & Safety Engineering Technology Program of Oklahoma State University. His professional experiences include industrial safety, developing, implementing, and maintaining safety processes primarily in manufacturing and the energy sector. Tim's research interests include industrial safety technology, human behavior, and workplace culture. He is a Certified Safety Professional and Hazardous Material Manager. Tim earned a B.S. in Fire Protection and Safety Technology and an M.S. in Engineering and Technology Management from Oklahoma State University.

Rob Agnew

Rob Agnew is an Associate Professor in the Oklahoma State University Fire Protection & Safety Engineering Technology Program. His professional experiences include working for Fortune 200 companies implementing comprehensive environmental, health, and safety programs. His research includes balancing the fire and health risks of using fire retardants in plastics and chemical contaminant transport in groundwater, including vapor intrusion into buildings. In the classroom, Rob combines practical experience with sound theory and hands-on learning to prepare students for industry and higher education challenges. He earned an M.S. in Industrial Hygiene and a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Oklahoma State University.

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No. 11 Experiential Learning in Higher Education for the 21st Century