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Enabling The U.S. Engineering Workforce For Technological Innovation: The Role Of Competency Based Learning For Professionals

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Professional Graduate Education & Industry

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.605.1 - 12.605.5



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Paper Authors


Thomas Stanford University of South Carolina

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THOMAS G. STANFORD is assistant professor of chemical engineering, University of South Carolina.

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Donald Keating University of South Carolina

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DONALD A. KEATING is associate professor of mechanical engineering, University of South Carolina, and chair ASEE-Graduate Studies Division.

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Duane Dunlap Western Carolina University

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DUANE D. DUNLAP is professor, interim dean, Kimmel School, Western Carolina University, and
program chair ASEE-Graduate Studies Division.

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Roger Olson Rolls-Royce Corporation

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ROGER N. OLSON is Lead Stress Engineer, Rolls-Royce Corporation, and a director of ASEE-College Industry Partnership Division.

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

Enabling the U.S. Engineering Workforce for Technological Innovation: The Role of Competency Based Learning for Professionals

1. Introduction

This is the third of four invited papers prepared for a special panel session of the National Collaborative Task Force on Engineering Graduate Education Reform to enable a strong U.S. engineering workforce for competitiveness and national security. As Fred Gary, former vice president of General Electric pointed out: Companies can no longer afford to have their products produced at B or C level. Nor can they afford to have their engineers, who conceive these products, to be educated at B or C level of competence. The importance for the nation to more fully develop its creative engineering capital in industry for professional competency and responsible positions of engineering leadership of continuous technology development and innovation is no longer in doubt. But the new challenge in professional graduate education for engineers requires a change in educational process that is not new. What were once the dreams of forward thinking educators to remove the constraints of time and place from the educational process for competency-based learning can now become reality. We now have the capability of making “learning the constant for professional competency” and “time the variable” in professional engineering graduate education. This paper presents the issues involved and recommends changes required in implementing high-quality competency-based learning into first rate professional educational programs for working professionals.

2. Competency-Based Education for Engineering Professionals

The National Collaborative is effecting a dramatic change in the professional education of practicing engineers. This is being done with full recognition of the way in which practicing engineers grow professionally throughout their careers. This is, in many ways, a new paradigm based on the understanding that receipt of a baccalaureate represents for the engineer entering the profession a challenge to continue the educational process. At the same time, it is an old paradigm based on an understanding of the educational process in general.

Practicing engineers perform at the highest levels of creativity. Consequently, professional education for practicing professional engineers must be focused on the highest categories of the cognitive domain in the taxonomy of educational objectives as shown in Figure 1.1,2,4 In addition; it must include important areas such as ethics, team building, and effective management of professionals that clearly fall within affective domain in the taxonomy of educational objectives. Further, because technologies change so rapidly, the educational process must enable the practicing engineer to develop facility with the new tools and technologies at his disposal. Such activities are within the psychomotor domain in the taxonomy of educational objectives. Hence, the professional education of practicing engineers is quite naturally competency based.

Stanford, T., & Keating, D., & Dunlap, D., & Olson, R. (2007, June), Enabling The U.S. Engineering Workforce For Technological Innovation: The Role Of Competency Based Learning For Professionals Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--1657

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