June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.6.1 - 15.6.9
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
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