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How May Adjuncts with Practical Experience Enrich Engineering Education: Challenges, Opportunities, and Positive Outcome

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Tagged Division

College Industry Partnerships

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Paper Authors


Waddah Akili Iowa State University

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Waddah Akili has been in the academic arena for over 37 years. He has held academic positions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penna (66-69), at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia (69-87), and at the University of Qatar, Doha, Qatar (87-00). Professor Akili’s major field is geotechnical engineering and materials. His research work & experience include: characterization of arid and semi arid soils, piled foundations, pavement design & materials, and concrete durability. His interests also include: contemporary issues of engineering education in general, and those of the Middle East and the Arab Gulf States in particular.

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The proposed paper examines the status quo of adjunct faculty in engineering institutions and argues that adjuncts could enrich an academic engineering program by bringing in their practical experience and by introducing relevant applications and design venues to the classroom. Adjunct faculty members do, also, help in setting up linkages with the industrial sector, which often leads to: employment opportunities for graduates, co-op activities, and potential development of collaborative research programs. Nevertheless, the present status of most adjunct faculty is tenuous, subject to shifting enrollment, and considered as a temporary arrangement, or until a “full-time” faculty is appointed. Unfortunately adjuncts, often with proven records of good teaching, are marginalized by the academic systems in place today; and their efforts and contributions to the academic process are undervalued. If fair treatment and proper recognition are accorded to adjuncts with practical experience; then, their morale, loyalty to the institution, and their teaching effectiveness would improve markedly.

Next, the paper reports on a case of an adjunct with practical experience who “teamed-up” with a “full-time” faculty member, in an attempt to bring the “practice” to 4th year students in a civil engineering class. The success achieved in meeting stated objectives of design-oriented course, including students’ exposure to relevant “practice”, was attributed, in large measure, to proper planning and coordination that preceded course delivery. Plus, the willingness, experience and abilities of the adjunct in addressing the practice in the locale. The paper sheds light on this case, and focuses on the contributions of the adjunct in delivery of “practice-related” material, organizing instructional activities, as well as adjunct’s ability and effort in engaging students, in and outside the classroom. The positive outcome of this experience has lead other faculty members to follow the same path, i.e., by searching for practitioners-as adjunct faculty- to assist in bringing the practice into the classroom, in partnership with “full-time” faculty.

In many areas of engineering education, there appears to be an increased reliance on adjunct faculty with industrial experience. Clearly, such an arrangement has many benefits to the engineering education process. The continued increase in emphasis by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology on engineering design and related courses in undergraduate curriculum, leads to an increased reliance on faculty with practical experience. Also, Adjuncts can play a significant role in developing practical courses and in guiding students to solve real world design problems.

Akili, W. (2018, June), How May Adjuncts with Practical Experience Enrich Engineering Education: Challenges, Opportunities, and Positive Outcome Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31379

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