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Differences in Educational Goals within the Field of Electrical Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

ABET Accreditation, Assessment, and Program Improvement in ECE

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.468.1 - 25.468.22



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Paper Authors


Diana G. de la Rosa-Pohl University of Houston

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Diana de la Rosa-Pohl has been a lecturer in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston since 2003. She has worked with the PROMES program to develop project-based learning courses for the first-year curriculum. Currently, she is developing and evaluating project-based multidisciplinary courses for the engineering honors program.

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DIFFERENCES IN EDUCATIONAL GOALS WITHIN THE FIELD OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING The knowledge capital that a nation's population of engineers brings to a society has greateconomic and cultural impact. Electrical engineers in particular are responsible for manyinnovations that we now take for granted in everyday life. Therefore, preparation of electricalengineers for careers in this field becomes an important national issue, especially since engineersare expected to continue being global leaders in high-technology innovation. The issue ofproperly educating these engineers to address the highly complex and technical issues of themodern world is more important now than ever. In order to design electrical engineeringprograms that train these engineers to be successful and excel in the workforce, their potentialemployers and developers of engineering curricula must work together to ensure that societal andindividual needs are being met. However, before this work can truly be productive, it isimportant to understand the needs of each group. If the intentions of academia differ from theneeds of industry, then the work of preparing a new generation of electrical engineers that arecapable of solving society's most challenging problems will be stifled. The purpose of this studywas to investigate, through interviews, the opinions of practicing engineers in both industry andacademia to determine if a misalignment of needs and educational goals between the two groupsexists. Thus, the guiding research question for this study is: “How do electrical engineers inindustry and academia differ in their conceptions of the goals of engineering education?” To answer this question, six electrical engineers currently practicing in the field werechosen to provide feedback regarding educational outcomes through interview data. In selectingthe six respondents to be included in this study, the following criteria were applied: 1)respondents must have been working in their field for a minimum of seven years, and 2) industryrespondents must have obtained at least a bachelors degree in electrical engineering, and facultyrespondents must have been actively teaching in an electrical engineering program. Based onthese criteria, three respondents were selected from industry and three respondents were selectedfrom academia. Semi-structured interviews were conducted and comparisons of comments maderegarding student outcomes were made between the two respondent groups. Study data showed that there was disagreement in some but not all of the educationaloutcomes. In fact, there was surprising agreement on approximately half of the student outcomesthat emerged from the interview data. Overall there were very few comments regardingoutcomes that respondents felt were not important. Only five outcomes elicited unfavorableremarks. Interestingly, all of the unfavorable remarks from industry respondents dealt withtechnical outcomes. There were only two unfavorable comments from academia and theypertained to a single non-technical outcome (ethics/morality). Also, there were some instances ofdisagreement on importance of educational goals within the groups. These instances were mainlywithin the industry group and related to technical outcomes.

de la Rosa-Pohl, D. G. (2012, June), Differences in Educational Goals within the Field of Electrical Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21226

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