June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
15.844.1 - 15.844.16
Liberal Education for the Engineer of 2020: Are Administrators On-Board?
Engineering educators are being pressed to prepare students for the challenges of a dynamic, global workplace and society. The National Academy’s reports, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century1 and Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century2, provide guidance to the engineering education community as it seeks to meet these challenges. The Engineer of 2020, in particular, identifies the attributes and skills that engineers will need if the U.S. is to maintain its economic and engineering leadership in a rapidly changing technological and globalized environment. The report portrays engineering education of the future as a liberal education, stressing interdisciplinarity, communication, leadership, and understanding the multiple, interconnected contexts in which engineering exists. This paper presents data from one component of a larger, national study that examines the extent to which undergraduate engineering programs are on-board with the NAE’s vision and are providing educational experiences consistent with the report’s goals.
Data come from a survey of engineering administrators and focus in particular on their responses to questions about the role of liberal education in the preparation of engineers. The study’s institutional sample was drawn from the population of four-year engineering schools offering two or more of the following ABET-accredited undergraduate engineering programs: biomedical/bio-engineering, chemical, civil, electrical, industrial, or mechanical. A 6x3x2 disproportionate stratified random sample was drawn using the following strata: six discipline levels, three levels of highest degree offered (bachelor's, master's, or doctorate), and two levels of type of control (public or private). The sample includes 32 U.S. colleges/schools of engineering. Thirty associate deans (94%) and 84 program chairs (67%) responded.
Analyses indicate the majority of respondents are familiar with the goals of The Engineer of 2020. Administrators tended to agree with statements such as “humanities and social science courses are very important in preparing engineers” and that the undergraduate engineering curriculum should “prepare students to assume community leadership roles.” Although there were some small differences, analyses, generally did not support the hypotheses that respondents’ levels of agreement with the NAE’s vision would vary with institutional mission (bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral) and/or size. Similarly, administrators’ views on liberal learning were not linked to the amount of their industry experience.
In recent years, external and internal forces have pushed engineering educators to reshape their programs’ curricula to prepare students more effectively to meet the challenges of a dynamic, global workplace and society. Numerous reports describing this need have emerged from such bodies as the National Academy of Engineering, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies; engineering industry organizations; and professional societies. While the focus of each report varies, they have certain themes in common. All argue that to meet the needs of the future and to maintain America’s economic and technological dominance on the world stage,
Harper, B., & Lattuca, L., & Yin, A., & Terenzini, P. (2010, June), Liberal Education For The Engineer Of 2020: Are Administrators On Board? Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/16467
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