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"Converging Technologies" The New Frontier In Engineering Education

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Global Engineering in an Interconected World

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.2.1 - 7.2.10



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Paper Authors

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Robert Balmer

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

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Robert T. Balmer Division of Engineering and Computer Science Union College Schenectady, NY 12308

Abstract In recent years a wide variety of industries and technologies have been intersecting to create new products and solve new problems. Since these new technologies typically occur at the interfaces of science and engineering (producing new fields such as “nanotechnology”), we call this phenomenon "Converging Technologies." In view of the continuing rapid growth of technology, it appears that the Converging Technologies phenomenon will continue to define the world for the foreseeable future.

Union College is implementing a new initiative that brings cutting-edge Converging Technologies into our classrooms in innovative ways. We see special opportunities to integrate topics in bioengineering, nanotechnology, mechatronics, and pervasive computing into our undergraduate engineering and liberal arts programs.

Converging Technologies includes various skills and disciplines across the campus. For example, combining the skills of a computer scientist with the needs of a graphic artist, or those of an engineer with the needs of a biologist or a chemist or a physicist, often producing unique results. At Union College we are currently adding Converging Technologies topics to existing engineering and liberal arts courses and developing new undergraduate introductory courses in specific Converging Technologies areas. As a college with historic and well-known programs in both engineering and the liberal arts, we are building on our strengths to produce highly informed citizens for the 21st century.

Background The phrase “Converging Technologies” is most commonly used to signify the recent merging of communications and computer technologies. This convergence produced the digitization of text, voice, and graphical communication modes that were traditionally delivered by distinctly different technologies. However, in this paper, we use the phrase “Converging Technologies” to signify any confluence of traditional technologies (often catalyzed by digital technology).

It is easy to become confused by this because the convergence process may cover vast time periods. For example, we have had communication technologies such as text and graphics for many centuries, but newer electronic communications technologies such as radio, telephone, and television have existed for only a few decades. All of these technologies have recently converged through digital technology into a single hand-held device, and their descriptive vocabularies have become intermixed.

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Balmer, R. (2002, June), "Converging Technologies" The New Frontier In Engineering Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11233

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