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The Engineering Professor Of 2020: The Forgotten Variable

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Scholar Program Proposal/Develop Courses and Materials/Collaborations and Accredatation Systems for Global Engineering Education / Preparing Engineers for the Global Workplace and Successful Graduates for a Flat World: What Does It Take?

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Page Numbers

15.1231.1 - 15.1231.17



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Paper Authors

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Lueny Morell Hewlett-Packard

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Jennifer DeBoer SPEED

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

The Engineering Professor of 2020: the Forgotten Variable


Much has been said about the profile of the engineering graduate of the future and about effective and innovative teaching and learning strategies, yet only a few have spoken about the skills and competencies of the ideal engineering professor – key individual of the heart of the process education process. How can engineering faculty instill the novel skills and competencies of the profession if they themselves do not possess these, have never experienced real-life engineering, and do not consciously study their own teaching methods? Engineering education gathers experts that blend two professions – engineering and education. Thus, engineering professors need to be both engineers AND educators and be trained and/or have experience in both disciplines. Engineering educators need to both understand what it takes to practice the engineering profession and how to effectively catalyze student learning. If we are requiring students to engage in real-life, practice-based learning experiences (co-op, internships, etc.), shouldn’t this be also a required activity for those teaching students?

This paper shares the results of an informal survey on the skills and competencies of the ideal engineering professor done in the Fall of 2009 among students, faculty/deans and industry members. The paper aims to initiate a dialogue among engineering education leaders around the “forgotten variable” in the education process: the set of desired skills and competencies of an ideal engineering professor. It hopes to kick off discussions around the following questions: What does the nascent engineer of 2020 need from his or her professor? What should the profile, skills and competencies of the engineering educator of 2020 be? Why has the current system allowed us to forget this critical variable, and how can we grow these skills in engineering faculty? Furthermore, how can we nurture effective partnerships, develop capacity building programs and find the resources to bring a significant change in this most critical protagonist of engineering education?

If these questions are answered jointly by all stakeholders and an action agenda is developed during the next few years - similar to the NAE Engineering of 2020 Report - one of the biggest challenges in creating a culture for innovation in engineering education will be addressed.

I. Introduction and motivation for this work

A. Growing and changing demands on the student

While the crucial engineering professor variable has certainly been overlooked, much attention has been directed towards related areas that depend on concurrent change in the professoriate. There have been numerous attempts to innovate the American engineering curriculum during the last 10 to 15 years. With the aim to better prepare engineering graduates in response to workforce needs, a number of reports and papers have focused on the skill set and competencies of the upcoming engineering graduate. The literature on the American situation mirrors that of universities and colleges with engineering programs around the world. Several come to mind:

Morell, L., & DeBoer, J. (2010, June), The Engineering Professor Of 2020: The Forgotten Variable Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--17013

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