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Reshaping Engineering Education Towards The Practicing Professional

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1997 Annual Conference


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Publication Date

June 15, 1997

Start Date

June 15, 1997

End Date

June 18, 1997



Page Count


Page Numbers

2.346.1 - 2.346.8



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Josef Rojter

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

Session 3260


Josef Rojter Department of Mechanical Engineering Victoria University of Technology, P.O. BOX 14428 MCMC Melbourne Victoria 8001. Australia.

Consider the turtle. It makes progress when it sticks its neck out.

The evolution of knowledge based economies coupled with the accompanying social changes is placing new demands on engineering education in meeting societal needs. The poor image of the profession reflects the lack of strong links between engineering and communal development. Restructuring of engineering curricula is needed to strengthen the professional practice and to make the profession attractive to higher calibre entrants, including women. An argument is presented for increasing the liberal arts and materials science components in engineering curricula, the first to broaden the professional practice, the latter to enhance engineering literacy.


Engineering practice cannot be anything but a cultural artifact, the way of doing things, setting up the societal infrastructures reflect the cultural traditions that encompass engineering enterprise. It is therefore no surprise that engineering education flows from such cultural nexus; the structure and curricular of engineering education are anchored to societal beliefs and traditions. In continental Europe, new separate structures were constructed early in the 19th century to accommodate post-baccalaureate engineering education. In Britain the empirical tradition of Universities facilitated the entry of engineering as an extension of the existing schools and faculties of science.

Australia had inherited the British educational traditions. Though not all formal engineering education was delivered through the University system. In the state of Victoria in particular, a second string of engineering education was provided at the turn of the century. The technical colleges, admitted students at the mid-secondary school level and provided practical based education.

The diplomats of these colleges had lower status than university graduates in engineering. However this secondary system had considerable support from the employer groups and state governments, though there was a class dimension here. It reflected the prevailing British attitudes that engineering was an occupation for the labouring classes. An attitude that has not quite disappeared till this very day.

The introduction of four year engineering courses at post year 12 level by the successors of the technical colleges in the 1970’s changed the landscape of engineering education in Australia. Research allocation by government bodies increasingly placed greater emphasis

Rojter, J. (1997, June), Reshaping Engineering Education Towards The Practicing Professional Paper presented at 1997 Annual Conference, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 10.18260/1-2--6764

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