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Foreign Adaptation Of U.S. Engineering Education Models

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.505.1 - 6.505.7



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Paper Authors

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Bethany Oberst

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Russel Jones

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

Session xxxx


Bethany S. Oberst James Madison University


The U.S. model of engineering education is rapidly being adopted in one form or another by countries around the world. Given the enduring strength of the U.S. economy and its strong base in technology, it is not surprising that countries wanting to emulate the U.S. economic success would see our model of engineering education as a desirable one. But seen from the inside, U.S. engineering education appears to have significant problems – such as declining enrollments, and the utilization of its graduates as a ‘commodity’ by employers. It also appears that new quasi-engineering academic programs have opened or are being developed to allow students to take more palatable paths to entry to lucrative technology careers. What are foreign countries getting when they adapt our engineering curricula, and is that approach appropriate to their needs?


There was nothing unusual about the circumstances: two American university professors each received an invitation to share their knowledge of U.S. higher education with fellow academics and some government and industry types in a different developing country. The invitations originated with overseas friends, but the U.S. colleagues were brought in as official paid consultants. The assignment in Jordan was long-range and specific: “Help us design a new engineering college that will meet ABET standards.” In the former Soviet Republic of Moldova, the assignment was short-term and generic: “You have two hours to teach us about the credit hour system in American higher education.” And so we went and received appropriate compensation and gratitude for our contributions, but a nagging question remained: “What aspects of U.S. higher education should be exported overseas and what are the U.S. practices that, like some wines, do not travel well?”

The seminar in Chisinau, capital of Moldova, was sponsored by the Soros Foundation in support of the Moldovan government’s recent decision to implement a credit hour system in their universities. As the presentation was being written, initial worries about communicating effectively with a wildly diverse audience gave way to a larger concern. The credit hour system in the U.S. is under active attack from within, as public pressure

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Oberst, B., & Jones, R. (2001, June), Foreign Adaptation Of U.S. Engineering Education Models Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico. 10.18260/1-2--9281

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