June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Engineering and Public Policy
11.173.1 - 11.173.5
EDUCATING OUR ENGINEERS FOR GLOBAL COMPETITION Abstract.
With the rapid growth in the number of engineering graduates in Asia and around the world an important question is: how should we be preparing the undergraduate in the US to compete? Asia is graduating more than half a million engineers a year compared to roughly sixty thousand in the US and starting wages are one third to one tenth those in the US. Several approaches to this question will be presented including, the broadening of the typical engineering program to include specific focuses on leadership skills, the understanding of major issues such as the environment, population dynamics and poverty. A second approach will be getting our students involved in working on trans-national design projects that require working with other students over time and cultural boundaries so that they are better prepared to work in major corporations with internationally distributed engineering teams. A third project is to explore encouraging undergraduate involvement in teaching other undergraduates as a way of improving their depth of understanding of technical material and developing their communications and organizational skills. To add additional material to the program we will need to improve the efficiency with which our students learn new skills. This is likely to require an improved understanding by the faculty of the science of learning.
The US faces some important public policy issues in deciding what skills we need to be teaching our young people if we are going to provide them with the opportunities to have the kind of life styles we believe are now possible. It is clear that science and technology now make it possible for many more people feed and house them selves in a comfortable manner than has ever been possible in the past. Scientific and technical information is being generated all around the world and we can expect both on the basis of population and the growth in the number of technically trained people worldwide that the fraction of it generated in the US is going to decrease. A public policy issue is how we take advantage of this growth in science and technology outside the US so as to improve our standard of living while helping the rest of the world to raise its. At the same time many well-trained people particularly in Asia will work for much less that we pay people in the US. The recent developments in communications and information technologies make it possible draw on this information as well as contribute to it. The question we have to answer is how do we train our young people to take advantage of these opportunities rather than being buried by the competition. In the following I will attempt to make some suggestions of approaches that are practical enough to be implemented and different enough that it will take some new approaches the way we have been training our students. New approaches are not easy as we are all much more comfortable doing things we know how to do and there will be many people will give you lots reasons why none of these ideas will work.
Barnes, F. (2006, June), An Approach To International Competition Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/1056
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