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Political Considerations For Federal Funding Of Engineering Education Research

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Topical Public Policy Issues

Tagged Division

Engineering and Public Policy

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.999.1 - 11.999.14



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Paper Authors


Devin Stewart National Academy of Engineering

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Devin Stewart was a summer 2005 Science & Technology Graduate Policy Fellow at the National Academies. He is currently a research assistant with the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) at the National Academy of Engineering. He received his MS in Aerospace Engineering at Virginia Tech, and earned his BS in Aerospace Engineering and BA in Spanish Language and Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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Norman Fortenberry National Academy of Engineering

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Dr. Norman L. Fortenberry is the founding Director of the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) at the National Academy of Engineering. Prior to joining NAE in October 2002, Dr.
Fortenberry held various executive and managerial positions within the National Science Foundation. He received his S.B., S.M., and Sc.D.
degrees, all in mechanical engineering, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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



Among the principal goals of the National Academy of Engineering’s Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) is to promote research on the teaching and learning of engineering among university engineering faculty. Critical to this goal is the availability of a consistent funding source to support those who aspire to conduct engineering education research. This paper attempts to examine the current situation in the U.S. Congress with regards to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education reform in general and engineering education research funding in particular. In an examination of current federal funding levels, it is apparent that education research accounts for a small and dwindling portion of the total education expenditure, insufficient for consistent innovation in the teaching of science and engineering. However, this adverse fiscal environment is countered by a growing sense among many members of Congress that the current education system is not producing scientists and engineers in the quantity and quality required to maintain the economic competitiveness and defense capability of the country. Therefore a window may exist to demonstrate that education research may be a means to understand better this country’s higher education system and to modify its outputs. Based in large part upon interviews with congressional staff, this paper identifies loci of support among members of Congress, as well as engineering education research funding objectives. The issue of engineering education research has advantages and disadvantages that affect its political viability and which must be considered when undertaking any effort to secure increased funding. The paper provides suggestions on how the academic community can promote funding for engineering education research in the Congress.


As with any other field of research, an engineering education researcher possessing only proper training and a strong desire to conduct research is unlikely to make much progress without also having a consistent funding source. Thus, a pool of federal funding becomes a critical element in the pursuit of engineering education research.

This paper seeks to explore the prospects for congressional support of engineering education research funding. The information presented is based in large part on interviews with congressional staff, as well as representatives of several education organizations. The paper begins by briefly examining the current state of funding, focusing mainly on the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education. The current political situation, in terms of support within the Congress, is assessed, and congressional committees and organizations of interest are identified. The final section recommends methods for promoting support for education research among members of Congress. This includes defining appropriate funding and legislative objectives, as well as considerations to be made when encouraging members of Congress to support engineering education research issues.

Stewart, D., & Fortenberry, N. (2006, June), Political Considerations For Federal Funding Of Engineering Education Research Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--103

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