June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Engineering Technology Education in the United States
Calls to expand and improve the quality of the US technical workforce have been made in one form or another for decades. Over the last 10 years, and particularly since the economic downturn that began in 2008, the urgency of these concerns has grown. A key worry, expressed by both policy makers and corporate leaders, is that the nation’s status as a world leader of innovation is slipping. In fact, by some measures, such as awarded patents, the United States has already lost is position of supremacy.
What has been largely absent from most discussions of the future of the US technical workforce is the role that engineering technology (ET) education, a degree pathway related to but distinct from engineering, plays or should play in supporting the nation’s capacity for innovation. This omission is worrisome, because the number of people with this type of education is substantial. What is more, the jobs performed by these individuals, which include building, maintaining, repairing, and operating a variety of technologies and technological systems, are critical both to the US manufacturing sector and to the nation’s essential infrastructure—roads and other transportation networks, communication networks, water supply and sewage treatment, and electric grids, to name just a few examples.
This paper will summarize the findings and recommendations from a project funded by the National Science Foundation that is addressing a number of questions related to engineering technology education. These questions include: To what extent does the supply of engineering technologists (i.e., those with four-year degrees) and technicians (i.e., those with two-year degrees) meet—or not meet—the needs of employers in different sectors of the economy? What kinds of changes in curriculum are under way or needed to prepare graduates of these programs to best meet the challenges of globalization? And what is the extent and significance of differences between the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for engineering technologists and those needed by engineers?
The paper will draw on data collected from the relevant published literature; from federal educational and employment data sets (e.g., American Community Survey, Baccalaureate and Beyond, Current Population Survey, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, National Survey of College Graduates, Occupational Employment Statistics); and online surveys conducted by the project itself.
The paper will be based on a final report from project, expected to be published in late 2016.
[NOTE: A similar abstract to this one was submitted and approved for presentation in 2016, but the final report was not published by the time of the conference, so the study’s findings and recommendations could not be shared. Instead, the 2016 paper summarized some of the data collected. The paper proposed for 2017 will also include some of the data collected, but it will go into greater depth, and it will provide the study committee’s findings and recommendations.]
Pearson, G., & Kuehn, D. P., & Buchanan, W. W., & Ray, J. L., & Roberts, M. L. (2017, June), Engineering Technology Education in the United States: Findings and Recommendations from an NAE Study Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28263
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