On our Science and Engineering blog I just posted on the Olin Engineering Education Experiment. It is a great story of doing things differently.
The Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering was founded with a donation of over $400 million and opened to students in 2002. All students get a full tuition scholarship. Interesting article: The Olin Experiment by Erico Guizzo gives an excellent overview of the different focus of the school:
To some extent this is something a number of schools are attempting to do. One, of many examples - Princeton University: "At the same time, the center is improving students' technical education by exposing them to real engineering projects throughout their four years, through internships, entrepreneurial opportunities and multidisciplinary courses." - Princeton Center for Innovation in Engineering Education). The nature of Olin's methods do seem to be a qualitative different, not just a matter of degree.
This requires radically changing the normal university education model. To me this is definitely a different versus better (see last post) improvement effort. It will be interesting to see the success they achieve going forward. It almost makes me want to go back to school.
Building a Better Engineer by David Wessel:
That goal increases dramatically the potential benefits. If they truly focus on not just doing a great job at their school but exporting good ideas to others the benefits of success will be multiplied.