June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
11.134.1 - 11.134.15
A Ten-Year Perspective on Changes in Engineering Education
The Model Institutions for Excellence (MIE) program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) was implemented with the goal of increasing the number of underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Funded by the National Science Foundation, this 11-year program challenged UTEP to improve the first-year experience of its entering freshmen, to develop good study habits, to enhance instruction across the STEM curricula, and to promote career options and encourage graduate school. The MIE program’s success is based on changing the University culture by promoting early contact with faculty, active learning to engage students, a “home” to study and interact with peers, and exposure to research at the undergraduate level. These MIE activities are key in achieving the University’s mission of providing a diverse, commuter-student population in a geographically isolated bi- national location with the two ideals of excellence and access. Results from these activities show an increased number of undergraduate Engineering degrees awarded from 153 in 1997-1998 to 254 in 2004-2005. The number of underrepresented minorities receiving these degrees has increased from 99 in 1997-1998 to 162 in 2004-2005. Additionally, the number of graduate degrees awarded in Engineering has nearly doubled annual production from 65 to 129.
The way scientists and engineers of the 21st century work has changed dramatically and will continue to do so. Our engineers and scientists need to be versatile and flexible, with multidisciplinary skills.3 Biotechnology, nanotechnology, genomics, and proteomics are just a few of the multidisciplinary fields taking hold in this century. “Innovation and technological breakthroughs are far more likely to be the product of convergence — accomplishments occurring where disciplines meet,” said Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rennselear Polytechnic Institute, during her speech at the Society for Women Engineers annual conference.15 The challenge to produce these scientists and engineers lies in an educational system that engages these future scientists and engineers in team-oriented real-world exercises that solve real problems. Concepts and methods drawn from many different sciences must be applied to solve these problems. It is the interrelationships between these disciplines and individuals that must be developed in our educational preparation for the next generation of scientists and engineers.
The University of Texas at El Paso has been changing its educational practices over the past decade for future engineering graduates. However, no different than many public institutions with liberal admissions policies, the University of Texas at El Paso has faced rising public concern from state and federal government agencies on the low retention and graduation rates of its student body. With a primarily Hispanic student population, where more than half are first- generation college students and nearly all commute to school daily and hold outside jobs, a change in educational practices and policies was required by students, faculty, and administrators in teaching and learning that support a non-traditional student. One concern in changing educational practice was the need to maintain high standards that ensured the engineering
Flores, B., & Darnell, A. (2006, June), A Ten Year Perspective On Changes In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/511
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