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The Changing Role Of Engineering Faculty In The 21 St Century

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Issues and Direction in ET Education and Administration: Part II

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1185.1 - 14.1185.13



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Paper Authors


Shekar Viswanathan National University, San Diego

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Dr. Viswanathan is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Applied Engineering at National Universtity. Dr. Viswanathan is also the Lead Faculty for the Engineering Management and Homeland Security and Safety Engineering programs. He manages six full time and fifty two adjunct faculty members in the department which offers offering four undergraduate and five graduate programs with student population of over three hundred students. Dr. Viswanathan is an educator, researcher and administrator with more than twenty-five years of industrial and academic experience encompassing engineering and environmental consulting, research and development, and technology development. Career experience includes teaching at the University level, conducting fundamental research, and developing continuing educational courses.

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Howard Evans National University, San Diego


Lal Tummala San Diego State University

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Lal Tummala is the Professor and Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering department in San Diego State University. He has a Ph.D. in Controls Engineering from Michigan State University. He was on the faculty of Michigan State university for over 30 years before taking the position at San Diego State University. He is an educator, researcher and administrator.

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

Changing Role of Engineering Faculty in the 21st Century


The issue of faculty responsibilities and workload, besides being extremely complex, and multi- faceted issues is a dynamic rather than a static one, as these responsibilities change based on the changing nature of a university, its students, or any of a variety of external factors. This paper discusses some of the efforts made in addressing a sampling of these facets, with examples from two of the largest universities in California, one private and one public. The paper concludes by pointing to ways in which faculty roles can be redesigned or supported so that they can offer students effective education while meeting administrative responsibilities with less stress.


Engineering faculty, to be effective in the 21st century, require many of the same characteristics and skills that were needed in the 20th century. However, the traditional services provided by faculty are changing, and this implies that the fundamental role of an engineering faculty is also likely to change. Some of the factors that are bringing about the change are the need to balance the increasing pressures from shrinking budgets, growing costs, the proliferation of online instruction, competition from schools that offer similar programs, the emergence of for-profit institutions, high expectations from students and administration, and other factors. Also, innovation and technological breakthroughs in the 21st century are driving rapid changes in both engineering content and in modes of content delivery, thus requiring engineering faculty to be highly adaptive to constant changes. Besides the need for a growing number of engineers to acquire skills such as communication, collaboration and creativity, there is also an increasing need for faculty to educate students on the ethical implications and environmental consequences of the tasks they perform as future engineers. The faculty has to balance this with other duties such as scholarly development, accreditation, committee assignments, and other service requirements. In short, to be successful it is imperative that the engineering faculty acquire and possess strong management expertise along with varied technical skills.

Typically, all faculty members in universities have certain common responsibilities such as having to commit themselves to their teaching obligations; participate in the development of the programs of their departments and schools and of the university as a whole, engage in scholarly activities; support the university, as appropriate, in its goal to promote and fund programs, and render public service. Besides these, most universities require their engineering faculty to be both imaginative and ambitious intellectually. This becomes difficult especially when the infrastructure to conduct research is limited, particularly in universities that are primarily teaching-oriented. The faculty, in order to meet goals for scholarly contributions, has to work effectively in an environment of increased competition to obtain research funding, heavy teaching loads, and demands necessitated by the need to meet accreditation standards. The administrators are facing similar challenges. Part of the reason is because they require the faculty seeking promotion and tenure to satisfy certain demands but are unable to offer them the same kind of remuneration that such qualified individuals would receive in the private sector. As a result, they are often faced with the problem of not being able to recruit or retain quality faculty.


Viswanathan, S., & Evans, H., & Tummala, L. (2009, June), The Changing Role Of Engineering Faculty In The 21 St Century Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5416

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