June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.795.1 - 15.795.12
International Collaboration in an Undergraduate Control Systems Course
This paper presents the results of a collaborative group project involving teams of students from the University of Detroit Mercy in the United States and the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil that took place during the summer of 2009. This assignment was given as part of existing undergraduate control systems courses offered at the participating universities. As these are existing courses that are currently required in the respective curricula, students were not required to take an extra course and a range of students were reached. Furthermore, the entire project was performed at a distance employing readily available technologies such that additional costs were not a concern.
The effects of globalization on the United States economy are well-documented and have significant implications for the engineers of today and the near future. It has been observed for many years the movement of domestic manufacturing operations overseas in order to leverage available cost advantages. What began as the export of unskilled manufacturing jobs has grown to include service sector jobs like customer support and even computer programmers. This trend continues today with skills unique to engineers being viewed as commodities that can be supplied by people all over the world. By some estimates, one third of all domestic jobs are susceptible to off-shoring1.
The rapid development of various information technologies have greatly lowered barriers to information for people all over the world and has enabled the export of skilled engineering jobs. This fact is exemplified by statistics on the numbers of engineers being graduated in China and India as compared to the United States. While specific numbers are subject to debate, even conservative estimates show that the number of engineers produced by China and India together double or triple the number produced in the United States2. Trends also indicate that this gap will continue to grow. Statistics for 2004-2005 academic year showed that domestic engineering enrollments were down for the second year in a row, and worse, that less than 5 percent of undergraduate degrees were awarded in engineering in 2005 as compared to almost 8 percent in 19853. With greater numbers of foreign engineers available, the export of jobs is then driven by their lower cost. For example, eight young professional engineers can be hired in India for the cost of a single engineer in the United States4.
The implications of these numbers for the engineering students of today are twofold: (1) students of today face much more international competition for jobs than they have in the past, and (2) as practicing engineers they are much more likely to have to work with engineers from all over the world. In order to prepare our students for this new environment, it is necessary that we educators modify and improve their preparation. It is no longer enough that our students be technically competent, they must excel as leaders, communicators, and innovators. This
Hill, R., & Pena, P. (2010, June), International Collaboration In An Undergraduate Control Systems Course Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15783
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