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Reforming The Master Of Science In Engineering

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.373.1 - 1.373.5

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John A. Fillo

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

I Session 1255

Reforming the Master of Science in Engineering

John A. Fillo State University of New York at Binghamton


To place in context the current discussion to “re-invent” engineering education we go back fifty years. World War II disclosed that American engineering education was inadequate to meet the new realities produced by the war. Prior to the war the typical engineering graduate had only a bachelor’s degree with very little science beyond the sophomore year. To create the needed advanced technology to wage the war, Ph.D’s in science were enlisted to work on undersea warfare technology, radar and nuclear weapons. Then there was Sputnik. Both World War II and Sputnik served as wake-up-calls to the universities to do something about engineering education, that is, a shift in the education of the engineering student to emphasize the science underlying engineering. Not only courses, but research as well, reflected this change.

Beginning in the 1970s through to the present, there was the realization or perception that America was falling behind Japan and other nations in manufacturing and in general, in relating science and technology advances to the market and economic growth. Fault has been placed at the doorstep of engineering education, both graduate and undergraduate.

To deal with present concerns there have been any number of studies as well as articles written on the general theme of new ways of thinking about graduate education. Two important reports on this subject are the report by the National Research Council, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, “Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers, ” and the National Academy of Engineering, “Academic Engineering Research in a Changing World: Issues, Problems and Solutions. ” Another important report that focuses primarily on undergraduate education but has implications for graduate education is the NSF report, “Restructuring Engineering Education: A Focus on Change.” A consistent theme which arises throughout these studies as well as other studies is the recommendation to make the traditional graduate and undergraduate education of engineers more relevant and versatile.

What we wish to focus on in this paper is the Master’s level of education of engineers. Alternatives to the Master of Science degree are being discussed. We find discussions of the master’s degree as the first professional degree, sometimes referred to as the Master of Engineering or Practice Oriented Masters’s degree as an alternative to the Master of Science. There are a number of factors or circumstances dictating the need for reform of the Master’s degree, some of which reside with the issue of international competitiveness as well as those identified previously. The arguments go something like this: international competitiveness has created a need for engineers who understand design methodology and concurrent engineering. To prepare engineers for careers in design requires not only learning about these topics, but an understanding of the practice of

{tixaj 1996 ASEE Annual Conference Proceedings ‘.JHYEI:

Fillo, J. A. (1996, June), Reforming The Master Of Science In Engineering Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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