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Integrating Practice Into Engineering Education

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.793.1 - 10.793.14



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Paper Authors

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Robert Powell

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

Integrating Practice into Engineering Education

Lieutenant Colonel Robert A. Powell, Ph.D. Department of Systems Engineering United States Military Academy

Abstract – Academicians have noted a deficiency in engineering education offered by colleges and universities. The deficiency is that a majority of engineering graduates are taught by engineering faculty with little or no industry experience. Faculty far removed from advances in industrial practice will miss important opportunities to tailor the curriculum to crucial industrial needs. This will be to the disadvantage of their students. Regardless, employers yet expect colleges and universities to provide specifically trained graduates or graduates that have familiarity with the role of engineering in industry. West Point has been successful in bridging this gap while dealing with unique constraints not found at most academic institutions.

The purpose of this study is to describe a department’s approach at incorporating elements of engineering practice into its’ engineering curriculum. A survey was administered to graduating seniors to conduct an assessment of this approach. Graduates provided positive feedback on the course’s effectiveness and offered suggestions for updating its’ organization and structure. The results of the survey, from quantitative and qualitative responses, are used to assess the relevancy of this approach.

1.0 Introduction

What we have traditionally learned from history is that we generally do not learn from history. The deficiencies present in American schools and colleges are not new and unusual. They have been around for awhile and have led to the same outcomes or problems facing America’s economy today – an uneducated workforce. Over twenty years ago reformers became increasingly preoccupied with the effects of inadequate education of United States workers on the nation’s economy. This development coincided with increasingly competitive economic challenges from Japan, Germany, and other European countries. Although global economic competitiveness is built upon the foundation of both an educated and skilled workforce, a skilled workforce is built upon the foundation of an educated workforce. A well-rounded education is necessary to produce workers, which allow the United States to compete successfully with other countries. No nation can grow, economically or socially, without significant and sustained investments in the knowledge and skills of its people.1

In an analysis of the education systems of America’s competitors, reformers noted that the workplace played a crucial role in the education system of Germany and Japan. John Dewey, who is considered the father of education, strongly felt that the educator had to narrow the distance between the classroom and the world outside it.3 In the United States, too much time elapsed before high school graduates got a chance to use whatever advanced skills they might

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education”

Powell, R. (2005, June), Integrating Practice Into Engineering Education Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14209

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015