June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
Engineering and Public Policy
11.551.1 - 11.551.18
Engineering Education and the Global Economy: The Search for Policy Abstract Engineering education in the United States is confronted with some new realities, both real and perceived. Engineering is increasingly a globally distributed, cooperative activity and the US outsourcing of research, design, manufacturing, and construction overseas is growing. Further, the production of engineers in the United States is falling to around 5-6% of the global supply with clear signs that engineering education is available at lower costs, often far lower, in other countries. Many have viewed this globalization as a competitive situation for engineering education in the United States that we are losing.
We will present the view that in terms of the quality of engineering education (which engineering educators can influence) as opposed to the global economy (about which we can do little), engineering education is still very strong in the US and likely to remain that way. However, we will present some recommendations based on our professional responsibilities in running programs in entrepreneurship, leadership, and design. In particular, we will review survey data collected from Penn State engineering graduates over the last decade which helps define new paths for integrating entrepreneurship, leadership and design into the engineering curriculum. We believe that there are some very real ways in which engineering education can, and should be, responding to the new requirements for success in professional engineering careers that derive from national needs as well as from the globalization of engineering.
Introduction: Engineering Education in a Global Context1 There are many different views of globalization and its significance. For example, in the forthcoming book, Global Tectonics, Ghadar and Peterson identify 12 major changes at work: population, urbanization, disease and globalization, resource management, environmental degradation, economic integration, knowledge dissemination, information technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology, conflict, and governance.2 This list, in turn, is an expansion of the “Seven Revolutions” previously presented by the Global Strategy Institute of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS): population; resource management and environmental stewardship; technological innovation and diffusion; the development and dissemination of information of knowledge; economic integration, the nature and mode of conflict, and the challenges of governance.3 In their convincing representation, the world is changing rapidly and in many ways that can affect engineering and engineering education. However, naming fields like nanotechnology and biotechnology appears to name strengths not weaknesses of the U.S.
Nevertheless, there are signs that many in the engineering education community in the United States are becoming alarmed about the growing strengths of competitors in the global economy, particularly in Asia. For example, a recent report by the National Academy of Engineering, The Engineer of 2020, stresses the impact of globalization on the practice of engineering and the need for U.S. engineers to focus on innovative and creative aspects of the profession to be globally competitive.4 This concern is being taken further with the new NAE report Rising Above the Gathering Storm, 5 the name apparently being a reference to the 2002 movie about Churchill’s prescience about the emerging war threat prior to World War II. ASEE and Design News have
Devon, R., & Kisenwether, E., & Schuhmann, R., & Pangborn, R., & Barron, K. (2006, June), Engineering Education And The Global Economy: The Search For Policy Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1062
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