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Redesigning Engineering Education in Chile: How Selective Institutions Respond to an Ambitious National Reform

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Sergio Celis Universidad de Chile

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Sergio Celis is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering and Sciences at the Universidad de Chile. He conducts research on higher education, with a focus on teaching and learning in STEM fields. His primary research interest is in how multiple forces, internal and external to the institution, influence what and how we teach in colleges and universities. His doctoral thesis investigated how social and intellectual movements influenced the emergence of entrepreneurship education in engineering. Sergio received his professional degree in industrial engineering at the University of Chile and his Ph.D. in higher education at the University of Michigan.

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Isabel Hilliger Pontificia Universidad Catholica de Chile Orcid 16x16

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Isabel Hilliger is the Associate Director of Assessment and Evaluation in the School of Engineering at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. She creates qualitative and quantitative instruments for measuring and evaluating teaching and learning experiences in Engineering. She conducts research on learning standards and performance indicators. Her primary research interest is evaluating policy efforts that acknowledge learner diversity, and understand their effects in students performance. Isabel received her professional degree in biological engineering at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and her MA in policy, organizations and leadership studies at Stanford Graduate School of Education.

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In 2012, the Chilean government launched the Nueva Ingeniería 2030 program, which aims to redesign engineering education, enhance applied research, and create entrepreneurial ecosystems around engineering campuses. The program allocates more than 60 million dollars into ten selected engineering schools, an impressive sum for the Chilean educational system. Nueva Ingeniería 2030 represents an ambitious curricular and organizational change that requires an intense commitment from administrators and faculty. At multiple levels, this program means a transition from a traditional curriculum, where disciplinary silos are highly dominants, to a more flexible and multidisciplinary one, where global requirements need to be met in order to increase the contribution of engineering graduates to the economy and society. This research uses a multi case study to understand how the two Chilean most prestigious and oldest engineering schools respond to this program: Universidad de Chile (UCH) and Pontificia Universidad Católica (PUC). Although both institutions are comparable in terms of student admission criteria, research productivity, resources and prestige, both schools represent very different cultures. UCH is a public institution, and its engineering school, an isolated campus from the rest of the university, has highly specialized programs with a strong presence of physics science, mathematics, and engineering sciences. On the other hand, PUC is a private and confessional institution, and its engineering school, which is part of multi-school campus, has a traditionally close relationship with the private sector, and an early commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation. Along with the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation, UCH is focusing its grant on multidisciplinarity, internationalization, and harmonization of its system of professional and academic degrees. In PUC, the grant has allowed the school to deepen previous efforts for enhancing interdisciplinarity, applied research and technology transfer into the industry and the public sector, besides enabling the offer of technology-based entrepreneurship education for all students. Thus, the comparison of these two engineering schools will contribute to the understanding of curricular and organizational change in two selective institutions after the first year of the program implementation. As a conceptual framework, we ground our work in the rich literature of change in engineering education, in particular the branch that studies national efforts and coalitions for change. Our data set consists of documents, secondary data, interviews to leading administrators and faculty, and the results from instruments that measure entrepreneurial intention in both schools. Since the Nueva Ingeniería 2030 is just at its early stage, this study represents a baseline of multiple studies to come that will examine the consequences and effect of an ambitious national reform of engineering education. What we, and the engineering education community at large, be able to learn from this initiative will be important to understand curricular and organizational change at the national system, institutional, and program level. Moreover, the case of the Nueva Ingeniería 2030 presents an opportunity to contribute to the understanding of engineering education from the Latin American region and the global south.

Celis, S., & Hilliger, I. (2016, June), Redesigning Engineering Education in Chile: How Selective Institutions Respond to an Ambitious National Reform Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26066

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