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Economic and Pedagogical Analysis of an Alternative Model of Engineering Education

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering and Public Policy Division Technical Session 2

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

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Paper Authors


R. Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University, followed by 14 years as a faculty member at Oklahoma State University working on ultrafast optoelectronics and engineering education. While at Oklahoma State, he led a major curriculum reform initiative. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, he took a chair position in electrical engineering at Bucknell University. He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophical underpinnings of engineering education.

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John Heywood Trinity College Dublin

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John Heywood is professorial Fellow Emeritus of Trinity College Dublin- The University of Dublin. he is a Fellow of ASEE and Life Fellow of IEEE. he has special interest in education for the professions and the role of professions in society. he is author of Engineering Education. research and development in Curriculum and Instruction.

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Charles James Larkin Trinity College Dublin

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Charles Larkin is an adjunct lecturer and research fellow at Trinity College Dublin. He also lectures in Global Political Economy for the Global Security Studies MA at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Larkin is a researcher, academic and policy adviser in Ireland. He was previously Parliamentary Assistant and Chief of Staff to Senator Sean Barrett (I) of the Irish Senate. Dr. Larkin has had visiting posts at the Institute of Public Administration (Dublin), NUI Maynooth, Cardiff Metropolitan University and ESC Toulouse. He has been awarded funding from the EU FP7 programme, the Irish Research Council/Science Foundation Ireland, the Higher Education Authority as well as private and internal funding. Dr. Larkin's principal research focus is on public policy and the impact of multilateral bailouts on European countries. Dr. Larkin has a B.A.(Mod.) and Ph.D. in economics from Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Larkin is a native of New York City and has been resident in Europe since 1998.

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Shaen Corbet Dublin City University

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Despite the large number of commentaries on the current deficiencies of higher education there has been little work which undertakes careful analysis of alternative educational structures. To explore possible alternatives a model for engineering education developed over several years with feedback from ASEE conference attendees was analyzed at the Higher Education and Technological Disruption: Purposes, Structures and Financing workshop in Dublin, Ireland in 2017. This paper presents initial pedagogical and economic analysis of this curricular model as well as analyzing feedback from a variety of stakeholders—academics, industry, and policy makers—who attended the workshop. The model was developed in response to long term challenges facing engineering education which in turn are driven by forecast changes in employability and advances in technology. For example some long term predictions forecast that robotics and artificial intelligence may radically change desired workforce skills or cause significant reductions to the labor force. These trends may be exacerbated by the increasing impact technology is having on some aspects of education and the rising costs of college. The model was based upon alternative structures of credentialing and financing as a response to these potential pressures. The curricular model proposes restructuring engineering degree program towards: 1) shorter undergraduate programs that focus on developing horizontal transfer of knowledge rather than in-depth disciplinary knowledge and 2) periodic in-depth “educational renewal” throughout an individual’s career. This structure is grounded by, and emerges from, established models of liberal arts degree programs and is supported by decades of evidence on the aspects of college which most impact long-term student development. From a policy perspective in order for such a disruptive model to have a chance of implementation the methods by which education is financed also needed reconsideration. The economic analysis of the curricular model derives from modeling education as a human capital insurance policy that allows post-secondary education to be viewed as a continuous consumption process with different probability distributions for persons to re-invest/consume rather than as a discreet non-deferrable, non-repeatable investment decision. The paper summarizes reaction to the model from the perspective of workshop participants representing a wide swath of the engineering education ecosystem.

Cheville, R. A., & Heywood, J., & Larkin, C. J., & Corbet, S. (2018, June), Economic and Pedagogical Analysis of an Alternative Model of Engineering Education Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30349

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