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Paradigms And Scope Of Engineering Technology Education

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2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



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Page Numbers

6.775.1 - 6.775.7

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C. Richard Helps

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

Session 3149

Paradigms and Scope of Engineering Technology Education

C. Richard G. Helps Brigham Young University


The scope of thinking skills required of Engineering Technology graduates is not often fully appreciated. Engineering Technology is frequently defined by critics and practitioners alike in terms of its pragmatic approach to education. Phrases such as “hands-on” “application-oriented” and “implementation-focused” are widely used. While this aspect is an essential component of Engineering Technology, it falls far short of the critical thinking skills and breadth of understanding and performance needed for a competent professional four-year engineering technologist. Merely identifying Engineering Technology in terms of an experiential approach to problem solving provides no useful paradigm to distinguish amongst craftsmen, technicians, four-year technologists or even engineers. Focusing only on the “hands-on” aspects of Engineering Technology can also lead to minimizing important topics of theoretical understanding, professionalism, communication and breadth of vision, among others.

Different models of the scope of engineering technology education exist. This paper describes a modified form of the “Knowing, Thinking, Doing” model and then describes a new model called the “Vision, Structure, Detail” model. The two models are complementary rather than competitive. Each has different strengths and limitations. Each emphasizes different aspects of technology education. The “Vision, Structure, Detail” model helps to emphasize creativity, communication and leadership aspects.

From the two models a more complete description of the thinking skills necessary to define four- year Engineering Technology programs is developed. This gives insight into Engineering Technology education and the goals we need to develop and strive for as Engineering Technology educators. When applied together these two educational models lead towards a much clearer and grander vision of Engineering Technology education.

I. Introduction

Engineering Technology (ET) is often characterized by its application orientation. This is certainly one of its outstanding and essential characteristics but is far short of the potential that four-year ET students can achieve. Similarly, characterizing technology students as being “less math oriented than engineering students” also sadly misrepresents their abilities. Both of these characterizations have some validity but fall far short of accurately expressing the thinking and learning paradigms of ET. The potential of ET graduates is frequently underrated, sometimes even by those who are involved in teaching them. It is essential that ET faculty and administrators avoid falling into the trap of believing that ET students are just second-best

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Helps, C. R. (2001, June), Paradigms And Scope Of Engineering Technology Education Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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