June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Engineering and Public Policy
14.725.1 - 14.725.8
Incorporating standards into engineering and engineering technology curriculum: It’s a matter of public policy
Abstract Standards are those rarely noticed background rules and procedures which make products and processes successfully function in society. Standards can be technical, procedural or societal, and affect everything from automobiles, to accounting practices, to much of what we carry in our pockets or purses, to the way we read this electronic page. Standards are so pervasive that during our daily routine we may interact hundreds of times with products of standardization.
Still, as important as standards are, the topic is often approached with as much enthusiasm as that of watching grass grow. Worse, knowledge of standards, their use and development may actually be completely overlooked throughout the educational process. Why does this disinterest exist? How can it be remedied? ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) for one, has begun the process in establishing basic requirements for standards education spanning both engineering and engineering technology.
This paper discusses how such criteria can be addressed and standards incorporated into classrooms and across disciplines, to help battle disinterest and graduates’ dearth of standards knowledge. It includes educational techniques, strategies and sources of case studies that may be directly employed in classrooms. It goes further in offering insight into the standards development process and the rationale for involvement. It also touches on future trends in standards development. Involvement in the process can further individual professional development, as well as helping establish valuable contacts with industry and standards leaders, both nationally and internationally.
Introduction Standards have been an integral part of United States public policy since long before the terms ‘public policy’ or even ‘standard’ were coined. In the early 18th Century, John Quincy Adams wrote about ‘standard’ weights and measures:
“ Weights and measures may be ranked among the necessaries of life to every individual of human society. They enter into the economical arrangements and daily concerns of every family. They are necessary to every occupation of human industry; to the distribution and security of every species of property; to every transaction of trade and commerce; to the labors of the husbandman; to the ingenuity of the artificer; to the studies of the philosopher; to the researches of the antiquarian; to the navigation of the mariner, and the marches of the soldier; to all the exchanges of peace, and all the operations of war. The knowledge of them, as in established use, is among the first elements of education, and is often learned by those who learn nothing else, not even to read and write. This knowledge is riveted in the memory by the habitual application of it to the employments of men throughout life. ” 1
However with the passing of time and new technology advances, the interpretation of standards has evolved. Donald L. Evans, Secretary of Commerce in 2004 wrote:
“The international language of commerce is standards. Adherence to agreed upon product or service specifications underpins international commerce, enabling
Harding, B., & McPherson, P. (2009, June), Incorporating Standards Into Engineering And Engineering Technology Curricula: It's A Matter Of Public Policy Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/5204
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