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Doctoral Degrees In Engineering Technology: What Are The Real Issues?

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Graduate Education and Undergraduate Research in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.494.1 - 11.494.8



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Paper Authors

author page

Lawrence Wolf Oregon Institute of Technology

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



In 1982 I published a paper in the ASEE, Journal of Engineering Education, which attempted to bring the issues concerning graduate education in engineering technology into focus.i At that time it was the masters degree that was the point of contention. Engineering technology educators wanted masters degreesii, but the broader engineering education community was still ambivalent about even the bachelor degree in engineering technology. Yet that paper made it through the editorial committee of Engineering Education. Master’s degrees in engineering technology are now established even though there is still some reticence. But, perhaps the time has now arrived for a broader dialog about engineering technology at the doctoral level.

My paper first identified five “non-issues” that I thought should be cleared from the table so that the “real” issues could begin to see the light of day. The non- issues were that masters degrees would provide more status for engineering technology, that they would result in better funding for engineering technology education, that they would provide a supply of teachers, that ET should not be dead-ended, and that the master’s was the natural progression for ET education. While all these were interesting and worthwhile discussions within the ET community, they would not be the ones that would decide the question beyond that community.

The paper went on to suggest instead four “real issues.” Those were the intellectual issues that would finally prevail in the intensely academic enterprise that was and is the American university. Those issues were the body of knowledge, the components of research and scholarship at the master’s level, the faculty criteria, and the admissions criteria. This paper revisits the format of the 1982 paper on the master’s and suggests some appropriate issues for doctoral degrees in engineering technology.

If master's degree programs in engineering technology were a source of contention two decades ago, the establishment of doctoral program can be expected to be the subject of considerable deliberation within institutions of higher education. This will involve a cascade of university governance committees that may yet be fraught with the biases that have accompanied technology programs in the past. There will be further issues of institutional mission constraint and exclusivity since the authorization for doctoral programs is less widely distributed than are those for master’s degrees. Engineering technology has managed to cope well with the biases and political challenges but its experience at the graduate level is still limited. So the philosophical questions will still be the tough ones.

Wolf, L. (2006, June), Doctoral Degrees In Engineering Technology: What Are The Real Issues? Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1414

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