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Factors For Change In Mechanical Engineering Education

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.193.1 - 2.193.10

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Paper Authors

author page

Robert P. Taylor

author page

B.K. Hodge

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


Session 2266

Factors for Change in Mechanical Engineering Education

B. K. Hodge, Robert P. Taylor Mississippi State University


The combination of world events and technological advances is likely to result in the most profound changes in engineering education since the post World War II period. Factors for change in mechanical engineering education are postulated and described.


The story of engineering education is change. A very interesting and readable account (Grayson, 1993) of the history of engineering education was distributed at the 1993 ASEE Annual Meeting during the centennial celebration of the society. Indeed, the Proceedings of that meeting contain a number of history-related papers in virtually every division. Reading the Grayson history or any of the many history-related papers in the 1993 ASEE Annual Proceedings illustrates just how profound and continuous change has been in engineering education. Thus far in the twentieth century the most profound change in engineering education occurred after World War II and at the start of the Cold War.

World War II illustrated the enormous impact research and development in science and engineer- ing could have in the battlefield environment. Many engineers, especially those in academe or from academe, also observed that physicists played a dominant role in research and development activities. Many of these engineers concluded that the reason physicists played such an impor- tant role was the education in the basic sciences and mathematics that typified the undergraduate education of physicists. As a result the years after World War II saw profound changes in engineering education with the inclusion of more mathematics, a much firmer grounding in the basic engineering sciences, and the rapid assimilation of technological innovations. The Cold War of the decades after World War II continued to require large number of engineers with training suitable for the defense industry. Indeed, a number of engineering educators have viewed engineering education from 1945 to the early 1990’s as primarily structured to supply the education needed for defense, and later space-based, activities.

However, with the end of the Cold War, significant activity relating to a major change in engineering education has been and is currently taking place. Within the next few years, engineering education seems likely to undergo as significant a change as at mid century. Moreover, in addition to structural changes in engineering education, technological develop-

Taylor, R. P., & Hodge, B. (1997, June), Factors For Change In Mechanical Engineering Education Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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