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Engineering Graduates: The New Wave Of Teachers

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1998 Annual Conference


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 28, 1998

Start Date

June 28, 1998

End Date

July 1, 1998



Page Count


Page Numbers

3.250.1 - 3.250.8



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Paper Authors

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Gary Benenson

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El Hadji Diop

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José Sánchez

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Alphie Mullings

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Nadine Simms

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

Session 3630

Engineering Graduates: The New Wave of Teachers Gary Benenson, El Hadji Diop, José Sánchez/ City College of New York;

Alphie Mullings / Nadine Simms, General Electric Corporation / Air Products Corporation


Seen through the glasses of professional policy makers and educational reformers, K-12 math, science and technology education are scenes of fundamental and sweeping change. Broad national standards are establishing both the need for new pedagogies and strategies for implementing them. In all three fields, there is a consensus among experts that education should be relevant to problems in the real world and inquiry- or design-based. According to these documents, both science and math education should emphasize applications to problems of technology, and technology education should be centered around analysis and problem-solving. !

In most of the discussions of curriculum reform, however, there is an odd neglect of a critical problem. The vast majority of teachers currently in the system have been narrowly trained in ways often diametrically opposed to the new calls for contextual, interdisciplinary learning. Math teachers have been largely prepared to drill students in algorithms and facts; science teachers are generally the products of a descriptive approach which emphasizes vocabulary and memorization rather than experimentation and concept development. Technology teachers tend to fall into two camps: the former Industrial Arts or “shop” teachers, whose focus is on use of tools to make products; and computer teachers who instruct students primarily in the use of software. Neither group is well-prepared to deal with the new standards.

So the “missing mass” problem in Math, Science and Technology Education can be stated simply: where will the teachers come from who are knowledgeable about real-world applications of math and science and experienced in problem-solving and design? A simple " # $ solution is emerging: recruit engineering students to become teachers. They have strong backgrounds in math and science, awareness of their applications in analyzing and solving technological problems, and typically a penchant for “hands-on” activity. The authors of this paper have been part of a program to motivate engineering students to consider careers in teaching.%

How feasible is this idea? Experiences from the City College program and others suggest that under favorable circumstances, many engineering students might be attracted to teaching careers. Unfortunately, all of this data is anecdotal. To our knowledge, no systematic research has been done to explore the potential role of engineering graduates in K-12 education. This paper reports on what we believe to be the first such study.


The study was conducted by an engineering faculty member and five engineering students. Its purposes are threefold:

Benenson, G., & Diop, E. H., & Sánchez, J., & Mullings, A., & Simms, N. (1998, June), Engineering Graduates: The New Wave Of Teachers Paper presented at 1998 Annual Conference, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/1-2--7091

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