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The Distributed System of Governance in Engineering Education: A Report on Initial Findings

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Imagining and Reimagining Engineering Education as a Dynamic System

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31086

Download Count

24

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Paper Authors

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Atsushi Akera Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Atsushi Akera is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania. His current research is on the history of engineering education reform in the United States (1945-present). He is a the current Chair of the ASEE Ad Hoc Committee on Interdivisional Cooperation; Chair of the International Network for Engineering Studies (INES); past chair of the ASEE Liberal Education / Engineering and Society Division; and a former member of the Society for the History of Technology’s (SHOT) Executive Council. Publications include /Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers and Computers during the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research/ (MIT Press, 2006).

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Donna M. Riley Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Donna Riley is Kamyar Haghighi Head of the School of Engineering Education and Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University, followed by 14 years as a faculty member at Oklahoma State University working on terahertz frequencies and engineering education. While at Oklahoma State, he developed courses in photonics and engineering design. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, he took a chair position in electrical engineering at Bucknell University. He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophy of engineering education.

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Jennifer Karlin Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Jennifer Karlin spent the first half of her career at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, where she was a professor of industrial engineering and held the Pietz professorship for entrepreneurship and economic development. She is now a research professor of integrated engineering at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and the managing partner of Kaizen Academic.

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Thomas A. De Pree Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Thomas De Pree is a PhD student and HASS Fellow of Science and Technology Studies in the School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Trained in sociocultural anthropology, he received a BA in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of New Mexico in 2010, and a MA in Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University in 2015. Before pursuing his master’s studies in New York City, he worked as an archaeological field technician documenting “prehistoric” and historic cultural materials on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. His master’s research offers an ethnographic account of multicultural social movements against uranium mining in the U.S. Southwest. He is currently carrying out ethnographic research on the (un)making of the “Grants uranium district.” His dissertation focuses on the problem of mine waste and the ways diversely situated social actors attend to the processes by which uranium tailings and other harmful mining and milling byproducts cascade into the high desert ecology of northwestern New Mexico. His research pursues questions of how technology and politics become entangled through nature and culture in processes of environmental monitoring and ecological restoration.

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Abstract

Unlike medicine, the engineering profession establishes new standards for engineering education through a distributed system of governance that mirrors the distributed structure of the profession. In this paper, we present our initial findings and data resulting from an NSF-sponsored study of this phenomenon. This qualitative study is multi-site and multi-scale in its design, and draws on interviews with faculty and administrators, of different rank, from at least two-dozen different colleges and universities as well as engineering professional organizations. We also complement our interview data with content analysis of archival documents and published studies, reports, and statements.

The research questions that define our study consist of understanding and documenting the a) the basic structure of the engineering profession and U.S. higher education as it impacts engineering education reform initiatives; b) the historically evolving body of practice that has governed these reforms; c) the ways in which the epistemic habits of engineers, such as an emphasis on quantification and measurement, contributes to reform agendas and outcomes; d) the extent to which engineering educators are cognizant of the social and historical contexts within which they operate, and how their articulations of this context come to define dominant directions in reform; e) the processes through which destabilization and closure occurs with regards to shared standards in engineering education; f) more specifically, the mechanisms through with engineering education reform agendas are coordinated across different institutions; f) and likewise, common mechanisms through which such coordination is frustrated, undermined, and sometimes reversed, especially as a consequence of competing agendas that arise out of institutional diversity and other identifiable causes.

By the time of our annual meeting, we expect to be able to offer initial insights into each of our research questions. This paper will offer a preliminary presentation of our findings, including the presentation of illustrative evidence from our data set. The study is designed to provide all engineering educators with a deeper understanding of the context in which they operate, with the aim of producing more effective, inclusive, accommodating, and enduring solutions to the challenges of engineering education. (Note: A more speculative paper, exploring the theoretical and philosophical dimensions of governance in engineering education without a specific emphasis on our research questions and data set, has also been submitted separately to the TELPhE Division. The two papers will be different, presented by different lead authors, and complement one another.)

Akera, A., & Riley, D. M., & Cheville, A., & Karlin, J., & De Pree, T. A. (2018, June), The Distributed System of Governance in Engineering Education: A Report on Initial Findings Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/31086

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015