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A 21 St Century Undergraduate Engineering Education Program

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Global Engineering Models: Developments and Implementations

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Page Count


Page Numbers

15.6.1 - 15.6.9



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Paper Authors


Gearold Johnson Colorado State University

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Gearold Johnson is the Emeritus George T. Abell Chair in Engineering at Colorado State University. He was on the faculty at CSU for 24 years. Following his retirement from CSU, he was the Academic Vice-President of the National Technological University for eight years. He retired in 2002. He is the Chair of the ASEE International Division.

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Thomas Siller Colorado State University

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Thomas Siller joined joined Colorado State University in 1988 as an Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering. Currently he serves as the Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs in the College of Engineering in addition to being an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A 21st Century Undergraduate Engineering Education Program

Abstract Engineering in the 20th Century was marked by a significant number of inventions that resulted in sweeping societal changes. The National Academy of Engineering proposes that the current century’s major global engineering efforts will be focused on a number of societal benefits that need large scale systems approaches to resolve. The question this paper addresses is whether or not current undergraduate engineering education offers the appropriate educational content to prepare young engineers for this dramatic change in direction. Recommendations are discussed to make some of the necessary curriculum adjustments.

Background At the beginning of March 2009, the authors attended a symposium held at Duke University that was sponsored by the Colleges of Engineering of Duke University, the University of Southern California and Olin College. The topic of the symposium was the academic announcement of the fourteen Engineering Grand Challenges identified by the National Academy of Engineering. The symposium was a two-day event with keynote speakers and panels discussing the grand challenges. Many engineering students were in attendance especially from the three sponsoring programs. Each panel session ended with input or questions from the audience. There may have been as many as 800 attendees and the symposium was quite interesting because of the diverse nature of the grand challenges. The breadth of topics placed the symposium at the opposite end of the spectrum of typical single topic engineering symposia or conferences. But what was the process that had led up to this symposium? In 2006 the National Academy of Engineering started a project titled Grand Challenges for Engineering. The stated purpose of this National Academy of Engineering project1is

In a fourteen-month project, the NAE will convene a select, international committee to evaluate ideas on the greatest challenges and opportunities for engineering. The committee will draw upon many sources of engineering expertise (including the NAE membership and foreign associates, the NAE's international Frontiers of Engineering program, and engineering societies worldwide) as well as ideas from the broader public.

The NAE committee will create a ranked list of the grand challenges and opportunities for engineering during the world's next few generations. It will also point to engineering or scientific research and innovation that look promising for addressing each challenge as well as suggest currently unmet research needs.

As a result of this project, fourteen engineering grand challenges were identified2 ≠ Make solar energy more affordable

Johnson, G., & Siller, T. (2010, June), A 21 St Century Undergraduate Engineering Education Program Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16258

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015