Washington, District of Columbia
June 23, 1996
June 23, 1996
June 26, 1996
1.448.1 - 1.448.7
The Context of Change in Engineering Curriculum
Fazil T. Najafi and Paul Kaczorowski University of Florida/Florida Department of Transportation
The current world-wide trend in engineering education has been to identifi the il.mction of engineering education and knowledge as the product of its universities with the public and industry as its customers and engineering graduates as its product carriers.
It is the aim of engineering colleges to provide their students with a foundation of knowledge in science, basic theory, and technical subjects as they prepare for their real-life counterparts. Practitioners believe that the workplace requires graduating engineers to have many basic skills including the ability to work on a team and to communicate with one’s peers and supervisors. In addition, there is need for the capabilities of utilizing infor- mation technology, focusing on customer and societal needs, as well as ethical and environmental concerns, and understanding global needs and market forces. Therefore, the focus of engineering education should be on the immediate applicability of the engineering knowledge to the end user.
Due to system constraints, university faculty find it difllcult to remain focused on anticipating the fiture needs of engineering curricula. Faculty members must continually distribute their time among teaching, research, and publishing. When universities demand that faculty bring in research dollars as well as be excellent classroom performers, then the faculty must devote time and energy to these areas, which robs them of time to search for the real-world commercial needs for balancing theoretical and practical skills among graduates. The pressure to become tenured and to bring in large research dollars forces the faculty to maintain low student con- tact time. Often, due to the low salary scale for tenured faculty, outside consulting work is taken which again robs their schedule of time for student contact and for updating knowledge to share in the classroom. Peer pres- sure and competition among faculty, along with a belief that faculty receive most of their professional recogni- tion from publishing papers and winning grant awards, are problems associated with the lack of balance between teaching, research, and publishing efforts. Yearly evaluation of faculty by department chairmen which emphasize such areas as number of publications, dollar amounts of research, and university and community services serve to sidetrack faculty from focusing on the real issues of21 st century engineering education and the context of change in engineering curriculum toward being more responsive to end users (society, industry, government, world-market, etc). Due to this bottleneck of demands on faculty time, there is also a lack of communication between employers and faculty. Faculty cannot gain enough time to spotlight attention on attuning the engineer- ing curriculum to fiture markets.
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Kaczorowski, P., & Najafi, F. (1996, June), The Context Of Change In Engineering Curriculum Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia. https://peer.asee.org/5938
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