June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.608.1 - 15.608.12
Future of Engineering Technology – A Proposal
The question of what is the future of engineering technology has been debated for many years. The discipline has seen a substantial decline in program enrollments over the years and the uncertainty of its place in the university academic setting continues. We believe a fundamental change of direction for engineering technology is needed, a change based on the needs of its core constituents – students/alumni and industry.
Our experience suggests that students and alumni of four-year engineering technology programs expect an engineering career. There are few occupational positions above the rank of technician that contain the word “technologist” in the job title. There is, however, strong demand for qualified graduates who can work as engineers to solve technical problems, communicate technical information, and work well in a team environment. Qualified four-year engineering technology graduates satisfy this skill set, that is, they possess the skills that are required for most positions offered to graduates of baccalaureate engineering programs.
The core thesis we make is that four-year (bachelor) TAC of ABET-accredited engineering technology programs should constitute a separate but equally valid path to engineering careers in industry. Such four-year graduates should be as well-qualified academically as engineering graduates for the majority of engineering careers in industry. Graduates from such programs already pursue career paths that strongly overlap those of engineering program graduates with the exception of research-based careers.
We propose five actions to achieve the aim of engineering technology being recognized as a separate but equally valid educational path to an engineering career: 1. Engineering technology must clearly distinguish the four-year engineering technology academic paths that prepare graduates for an engineering career. It is especially important to distinguish these from two-year programs. 2. The academic curricula of four-year engineering technology programs must have a greater academic uniformity of rigor as is recognized through the accreditation process to be necessary in the preparation for an engineering career. 3. Four-year engineering technology programs should continue to support inclusion in the current single federal government job classification of engineering. 4. The engineering technology community must work with those organizations that have common interests and not with those organizations that discriminate based on academic pedigree. 5. The graduates are prepared to function as engineers; thus, the program objectives should make the proper claim: The degree is Engineering Technology. The career is engineering.
The history underlying the identity problem of engineering technology is briefly reviewed. Differences and issues between engineering and engineering technology are examined. The reality of engineering career paths is established as a context for the proposed actions.
Kelnhofer, R., & Strangeway, R., & Chandler, E., & Petersen, O. (2010, June), Future Of Engineering Technology Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--15892
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