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The Engineering Technician and Technologist Workforce

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Subjects in Renewable Energy and ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1530.1 - 26.1530.25



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Paper Authors


Daniel Peter Kuehn The Urban Institute

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Daniel Kuehn is a Research Associate I in the Urban Institute’s Income and Benefits Policy Center and a doctoral student in American University’s Department of Economics. He has eight years of experience conducting and managing research on the economics of education and training, the science and engineering workforce, human capital, and impact analyses of labor market programs. He has published numerous peer reviewed articles, book chapters, reports, and policy briefs, and presented his research to academic and stakeholder audiences. Daniel has worked on research projects for the U.S. Department of Labor, the National Academy of Engineering, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, and several private foundations.

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Melvin L. Roberts P.E. Camden County College

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Melvin L. Roberts is an Associate Professor of Engineering and the immediate past Dean of the Division of Business, Computer and Technical Studies at Camden County College in Blackwood, New Jersey. He has also held the post of Dean of Occupational Skills & Customized Training at the college. Prior to his current assignment, he spent 17 combined years as Associate Professor and then Chair of the College’s Computer-Integrated Manufacturing Engineering Technology program where he specialized in PLC programming and industrial automation. Since 2007, Dr. Roberts has held the position of Program Chair of the ASEE Two-Year College (TYC) Division and he has been the TYC Division Chair as well since 2009.

Dr. Roberts holds the B.S. in Mechanical Engineering cum laude from Howard University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Wilmington University, Delaware. His dissertation used discriminant analysis methods to explore the factors which affect the persistence of Engineering Technology students attending a two-year college. Melvin is also a Registered Professional Engineer.

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Walter W. Buchanan P.E. Texas A&M University

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Walt Buchanan is a professor at Texas A&M University. He is a Fellow and served on the Board of Directors of both ASEE and NSPE, is a Past President of ASEE, and is a registered P.E. in six states. He is a past member of the Executive Committee of TAC of ABET, is on the editorial board of the Journal of Engineering Technology, has authored or co-authored over 200 journal articles and referred conference proceedings, and has been a principal investigator for NSF.

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Greg Pearson National Academy of Engineering

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Greg Pearson is a Senior Program Officer with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in Washington, D.C. Greg currently serves as the responsible staff officer for the NSF-funded project “The Status, Role, and Needs of Engineering Technology Education
in the United States.” He is also study director for the Chevron-funded project, Guiding Implementation of K-12 Engineering in the United States. He was the study director for the NAE and National Research Council project that resulted in the 2014 report, STEM Integration in K-12 Education: Status, Prospects, and an Agenda for Research. He was the study director for the project that resulted in publication of Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? (2010) and Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects (2009), an analysis of efforts to teach engineering to U.S. school children. He oversaw the NSF-funded project that resulted in the 2013 publication of Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action and the 2008 publication of Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering and was co-editor of the reports Tech Tally: Approaches to Assessing Technological Literacy (2006) and Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology (2002). In the late 1990s, Greg oversaw NAE and National Research Council reviews of technology education content standards developed by the International Technology Education Association. He has degrees in biology and journalism.

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The Status, Role, and Future of Engineering Technology Education in the United StatesCalls to expand and improve the quality of the US technical workforce have been made in oneform or another for decades. Over the last 10 years, and particularly since the economicdownturn that began in 2008, the urgency of these concerns has grown. A key worry, expressedby both policy makers and corporate leaders, is that the nation’s status as a world leader ofinnovation is slipping. In fact, by some measures, such as awarded patents, the United States hasalready lost is position of supremacy.What has been largely absent from most discussions of the future of the US technical workforceis the role that engineering technology (ET) education, a degree pathway with 2-year and 4-yearvariants, plays or should play in supporting the nation’s capacity for innovation. This omissionis worrisome, because the number of people with this type of education is substantial. What ismore, the jobs performed by these individuals, which include building, maintaining, repairing,and operating a variety of technologies and technological systems, are critical both to the USmanufacturing sector and to the nation’s essential infrastructure—roads and other transportationnetworks, communication networks, water supply and sewage treatment, and electric grids, toname just a few examples.This paper will discuss the findings and recommendations from a project funded by the NationalScience Foundation that is addressing a number of questions related to engineering technologyeducation. These questions include: To what extent does the supply of engineering technologygraduates meet—or not meet—the needs of employers in different sectors of the economy?What kinds of changes in curriculum are under way or are needed to prepare graduates of theseprograms to best meet the challenges of globalization? And what is the extent and significance ofdifferences between the knowledge, skills, and dispositions needed for engineering technologistsand those needed by engineers?The paper will discuss the project’s data collection efforts, which include a review of thepublished literature, an analysis of relevant federal data sets, such as the IntegratedPostsecondary Educational Data System, and two large surveys—one of ET program directorsand the other of employers of ET graduates.

Kuehn, D. P., & Roberts, M. L., & Buchanan, W. W., & Pearson, G. (2015, June), The Engineering Technician and Technologist Workforce Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24868

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