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Engineering Education, Development, And The Digital Divide: Basis For A Comparison Of India And Latin America

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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

Engineering Education & Capacity Building in Developing Countries

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Page Count


Page Numbers

11.556.1 - 11.556.10



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Paper Authors

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Mary Jane Parmentier Arizona State University

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Haritha Mogilisetti Intel

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N.K. Kishore IIT, Karagpur


Uma Devi Sundararajan National Highways, India

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Uma Devi Sundararajan earned her BE in Civil Engineering from the Govt. College of Engineering, Salem (affiliated with The University of Madras, Chennai, India). Currently she is serving as a Junior Engineer in the National Highways Department at the Quality Control Division in Vellore. Her interests include aspects of digital divide, especially in India.

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Krutarth Mehta Arizona State University

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Krutartth Mehta is pursuing his MS in Technology with a Global Technology & Development concentration. He is interested in human aspects of engineering, such as digital divide.

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Rajeswari Sundararajan Arizona State University

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

Engineering Education, Development and the Digital Divide: Basis for a Comparison of India and Latin America


Several Latin American countries have recently drafted policy (Engineering for the Americas, Organization of American States, Lima Declaration, 2004) to enhance and improve engineering education specifically with the development of that region in mind, thereby creating a cadre of engineers trained to consider their discipline within the context of regional economic growth. India has become a leading producer of engineers and technologists, dramatically enhancing the country’s competitiveness in the global economy. On the other hand, India also continues to be a country plagued by socioeconomic disparities. Should India, as well, be creating engineers focused on development problems of India in addition to producing globally competitive engineers? Some of the socioeconomic disparity in India could be alleviated by adopting suitable policies that provide opportunities to more people to attain an affordable education, thereby reducing the poverty level or the gap between the rich and the poor; there is evidence that India is pursuing some of these policies. India provides an interesting example for Latin America, as it seeks to become globally competitive like India, but to also engender economic development and reduce poverty in the region. The objective of this paper is to discuss preliminary findings, and suggest a framework for understanding the relationship between engineering, technology and development.


Societies should be preparing their engineers to compete in a flat world. This is the message gleaned from Thomas Friedman’s new book, The World is Flat, which is being read and commented on widely by those interested in globalization and the global economy [1]. In fact recently the book was highlighted by several presenters at the Organization of American States (OAS)’s ‘Engineering for the Americas’ conference in Lima Peru (Nov. 29 – Dec. 3, 2005) [2]. Friedman, a New York Times journalist, asserts that the world is flat because of political changes and information technologies which have leveled the playing field and allow individuals from any country to compete equally in the global market. The message conveyed at the Lima conference was that in order to compete globally Latin America must produce more engineers, and those engineers must be well trained – like India, which, for Friedman, is the prime example of how the world is now flat.

Of course, the world is not flat for everyone, as evidenced by the digital divide. While the digital divide is a relatively new concept, it is based on the old divide between rich and poor, north and south, developed and developing. In general, new technologies are acquired by those that have the education, money and infrastructure to utilize them. There are sectors of society participating in the information revolution in most developing countries, but the socio-economic divides persist as well. It seems clear that engineers and engineering educators have a key role to play both in bridging the digital divide and promoting development, however it is less clear precisely how this role is carried out for maximum benefit to local development. The OAS in a recent report stated that it is impossible to “de-link the socioeconomic and cultural development of a country from its scientific and technological advances”, and that all countries needed to “value

Parmentier, M. J., & Mogilisetti, H., & Kishore, N., & Sundararajan, U. D., & Mehta, K., & Sundararajan, R. (2006, June), Engineering Education, Development, And The Digital Divide: Basis For A Comparison Of India And Latin America Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1295

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