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The Future Practice Of Engineering

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Leadership and Administration in ET

Tagged Division

Engineering Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1292.1 - 11.1292.15



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Paper Authors

author page

Harvey Lyons Eastern Michigan University

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



The practice of engineering in the future is predicted to be exceedingly different than now. Educational institutions, and others who are affected by global technological changes, have started to prepare for those changes. This has fueled the Engineer of 2020 Project, sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering’s Committee on Engineering Education. Their principal goal is to proactively modernize and reposition engineering curricula before a technological scare, such as the launch of Sputnik I in the 1950’s, forced engineering colleges to hurriedly restructure their curricula.


In our initial research to determine current and future trends in engineering programs, we found many and different views of the future demands and practice of engineering. It was decided to research and survey several significant areas for this proposal: (1) Academic institutions that are currently reviewing trends towards new educational approaches; (2) Corresponding technical articles describing the trends; (3) Current efforts in academe; and (4) Industrial sources (both manufacturing and engineering-based) that have a direct/current need for engineering. We also used the Listserv to ask engineering educators to describe and recommend computer usage in their programs to learn of any trends in that area as well. Finally, we examined the classified ads for engineers from two local papers to determine the quantity and types of expertise desired.

Trends and Perspectives

In 2004, the National Academies Press published a paper written by the National Academy of Engineering entitled ‘The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century’.(1) In the Preface, it stated that “Its principal focus is on the future of undergraduate engineering education in this country, although it is appreciated that to understand the full perspective, engineering practice and engineering education must be considered in a global context.” The paper seeks to develop a vision for engineering by 2020; a second paper, which has not been completed, will examine what we need to do to prepare engineers for the future. Some of the factors listed as engendering change include nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, information and communications technology, environment and the aging population. It was stated that “The steady integration of technology in our infrastructure and lives calls for more involvement by engineers in the setting of public policy and in participation in the civic arena.” The paper is quite extensive and, in its Conclusion, it states that the engineer of 2020 will be faced with myriad challenges and that they “…will be expected to anticipate and prepare for potential catastrophes such as biological terrorism; water and food contamination; infrastructure damage to roads, bridges, buildings and the electricity grid; and communications breakdown in the Internet, telephony, radio and television.” Finally, it was noted that, due to the rapidly changing nature of modern knowledge, engineers

Lyons, H. (2006, June), The Future Practice Of Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--29

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