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Engineering Versus Engineering Technology: Enemies Or Partners

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Engineering Technology Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.510.1 - 8.510.9



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Paper Authors

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George Holling

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

Session 1547

Engineering Versus Engineering Technology: Enemies or Partners

George H. Holling Dean, School of Computer Science and Engineering Utah Valley State College, Orem UT 84058


While there are distinct differences between Engineering and Engineering Technology, the boundaries have been ill defined and recent discussions have shown a shift in the views of both sides of the debate which has, in some instances, created conflict.

The fact is that these disciplines when properly defined, do not conflict, but rather supplement each other. It will become apparent that Colleges and Universities which either teach both disciplines or those Colleges and Universities that offer the respective programs in either Engineering and Engineering Technology and which successfully collaborate with each other will offer their students better programs. Furthermore these institutions will be more successful in forging prosperous partnerships with industry.

The paper will analyze the similarities and differences in the Engineering and Engineering Technology curricula and help the reader understand how the combination of these two programs will enhance each other.

Understanding these relationships will allow program directors and curriculum committees to structure their respective curricula to maximize the benefits and to minimize the conflicts when offering both programs. This will result in increased student satisfaction and enrollment, improved economics and better relationships with industry. In addition these programs may also benefit if they are or are seeking to become accredited by ABET.

Examples will be provided how both disciplines can benefit from mutual collaboration and how these collaborate programs can be promoted to attract strong support from industry.

The author anticipates that this paper will initiate an open discussion on both sides for the benefits of students and the profession.


Throughout the Engineering and Education Community we engage in a continuous debate that appears to portray Engineering and Engineering Technology degrees as either competitors or significantly different. Regardless of the view taken the outcome is almost always a heated debate that favors one discipline over the other.

Some authors have tried to differentiate the two disciplines as Engineering Sciences and Engineering Technology.1 At first glance this characterization appears to be a valid differentiation: the Engineering Science focuses on theory and mathematics, while the Engineering Technology focuses on the practical applications of engineering. Yet, the author objects to any reference that equates engineering to be a science. Science by its very definition is based on a solid theoretical framework as is engineering. Yet unlike the sciences, where each problem has a well defined solution, engineering relies often very heavily on the inspirations of the designer and many solutions may exist to address a specific problem as all practicing engineers well know.2 Engineering

Holling, G. (2003, June), Engineering Versus Engineering Technology: Enemies Or Partners Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12541

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