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Engineering Education Around the World: A Student Perspective

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2012 ASEE International Forum


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 9, 2012

Start Date

June 9, 2012

End Date

June 10, 2012

Conference Session

Track 1 - Session 2 - Student Development

Tagged Topic

Track 1 - Student Development

Page Count


Page Numbers

17.22.1 - 17.22.8



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Paper Authors

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Jennifer DeBoer SPEED

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The student experience in engineering training varies greatly from one university to another, not onlywithin the US, but around the world. The structures, practices, and cultures of engineering training that differbetween nations and regions create unique environments (Lucena, 2000) in which engineers learn and grow.Each country's policymakers, the United States included, could benefit from understanding, analysis, andcomparison of engineering systems besides their own. Through its collaborations with students internationally,the Student Platform for Engineering Education (SPEED) presents a paper that takes a broad look at thedifferences between engineering education systems from the perspectives of the students being trained withinthem. The authors first present an overview of the most common models for undergraduate training structures.We note differences along the dimensions of curriculum, teacher qualifications and practices, connections withindustry, and infrastructural support in the school. As the literature provides few examples of comparativeanalysis of student development from the student perspective, we then employ case study methods to fill thisgap in the extant body of work. Case studies provide depth to the picture of engineering education across thespectrum: Brazil, Australia, the United States, India, and Trinidad and Tobago are included as examples of thevaried ways in which engineers are prepared to address industry and development challenges around the world.SPEED's connections to students around the world provide a data source for student feedback in all of thesecontexts. As part of the case studies, the paper highlights individual reports from students who are in or haverecently experienced engineering training in each country. A student from each country is asked the samegeneral questions about his/her experiences navigating the university engineering training system. We find that students highlight experiences that changed their own understanding of the relevance of theengineering skills they learned in the classroom—a hands-on project that was meaningful, an internship whereconcepts finally “clicked”. We also find that, while students note the systematic opportunities in place fordeveloping engineers, the most useful opportunities are a result of student-initiated action. Students report thatthey have found the best learning opportunities of their own volition, whether because they are not readilyavailable or because they are more meaningful since students sought them out. The implications of our papercall for a more systematic incorporation of useful, hands-on learning activities and the formal incorporation ofstudent feedback in the structure of engineering student development generally. This paper is unique not only in its international perspective, but in its emphasis on the studentexperience and the student perspective in these different environments. Our paper adds an importantperspective to the “student development” track.Keywords: student perspective, comparative education

DeBoer, J. (2012, June), Engineering Education Around the World: A Student Perspective Paper presented at 2012 ASEE International Forum, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--17041

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