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Globalizing Engineering Education: Lessons Learned From Africa Usa Partnerships

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

International Initiatives, Partnerships, Teaching Strategies & Collaborative Networks (IUCEE, IFEES, LACCEI.... )

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

14.648.1 - 14.648.16



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Paper Authors

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Andy Ward Ohio State University

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Ann Christy Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Robert J. Gustafson

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Jessica D'Ambrosio

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Kurt Paterson Michigan Technological University Orcid 16x16

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

Workshop on Globalizing Engineering Education: Lessons Learned from Africa and USA Partnerships Abstract

Engineering is increasingly becoming a globalized profession by involving multi-national teams in engineering design, technical services, and marketing. However, the typical undergraduate engineering curriculum is often too full of required technical courses to allow time for any foreign language or study abroad courses. In order to become more multi-culturally sensitive and globally competitive, the US engineering profession must provide opportunities for aspiring young engineers to learn the requisite skills and attitudes. Despite widespread accolades from students on the benefits of international initiatives, these initiatives often flounder because of lack of resources, lack of institutional support, and logistical problems. To address these concerns we hosted a workshop on Globalizing Engineering Education. This National Science Foundation funded workshop brought together invited engineering faculty, staff and students from North America and partners from six African countries. The workshop was held in Cape Town, South Africa prior to the ASEE's 7th Annual Global Colloquium and the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies' Global Summit. Participants shared knowledge gained from their USA-African partnerships and discussed how to better globalize engineering education. The goals of the workshop were to: (1) identify effective learning models that incorporate a global dimension in engineering education; and (2) to identify what the infrastructure and resource requirements are to have a sustainable global dimension in engineering education. Topics discussed included: why globalize engineering education; infrastructure requirements; research versus classroom, experiential, or distance learning; the roles of non-engineers in engineering education; and outcome assessment. Presented are preliminary outcomes from this ongoing initiative.


Engineering is increasingly becoming a globalized profession, including use of multi-national engineering design, technical service, and marketing teams. Engineering education in the U.S. has been slow to adapt to this changing reality, with estimates that fewer than 8% of engineering undergraduates participate in study abroad programs1. The typical undergraduate engineering curriculum is already too full of required courses to allow most students to graduate in four- years. There is no room for more requirements and expectations to have the technical and cultural background they will need to become global engineers, but the National Academy of Engineering2 predicted that, among other attributes, “the engineer of 2020 will have to understand how to adapt solutions, in an ethical way, to the constraints of developing countries.”

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) encourages educational programs to develop their own learning outcomes that are consistent with each individual program's educational objectives. However eleven outcomes (a-k) 3 are required of all accredited U.S. engineering programs, including one that says programs must demonstrate that their students attain “the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.” Engineering education researchers

Ward, A., & Christy, A., & Gustafson, R. J., & D'Ambrosio, J., & Paterson, K. (2009, June), Globalizing Engineering Education: Lessons Learned From Africa Usa Partnerships Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5742

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