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The Professional Doctorate for the Engineering & Technology Profession

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

Potpourri: Various Issues and Topics in Graduate Studies

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

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Paper Authors


Michael J. Dyrenfurth Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Michael J. Dyrenfurth is a Professor and Graduate Programs Coordinator in the Department of of Technology Leadership and Innovation in Purdue University's Polytechnic Institute. He is a member of the ASEE and he has served on both the ENT and the ETD Board of directors and as program chair for the ASEE ENT (2014) and the CIEC in New Orleans (2008). Previously he completed a four year term as Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies in Purdue University’s College of Technology.

He was co-PI of two international EU-FIPSE funded grants. His scholarship agenda focuses on technological innovation, technological literacy, workforce development, and international dimensions of these fields. Increasingly, he has turned his attention to the field of technological innovation and the assessment of technological capability, understanding and innovation.

Internationally he has worked in Germany, South Africa, Poland, the USSR, Saudi Arabia, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Czech and Slovak Republics, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Taiwan His early experience involved teaching in Alberta and at universities in North Dakota and New Jersey.

Immediately before coming to Purdue, he served as graduate coordinator for the Industrial Education and Technology Department at Iowa State University. Previously, for twenty years, he was on the faculty of the University of Missouri’s Department of Practical Arts and Vocational Technical Education in various professorial, coordinator and leadership roles. He maintains a consulting practice in the area of third party evaluation, technology futuring and leadership and curriculum development.

He received his Ph.D. from Bowling Green State University and his Masters and Bachelor’s degrees at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

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Kathryne Ann Newton Purdue Polytechnic Institute, Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Kathy Newton is the Associate Dean for Graduate Programs for the Purdue Polytechnic Institute and a Professor of Supply Chain Management Technology at Purdue University. Her teaching and
scholarly interests are in the areas of supply chain management technology, graduate education and quality. She
recently completed a 3-year appointment as Department Head. Prior to her appointment at Purdue University
in 1993, she spent seven years teaching for Texas A&M University’s Department of Engineering
Technology and Industrial Distribution. Dr. Newton has a Ph.D. in Educational Human Resource Development, a Master’s degree in Business Administration,
and a B.S. in Industrial Distribution, each from Texas A&M University.

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Mitchell L Springer PMP, SPHR, SHRM-SCP Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Mitchell L. Springer, PMP, SPHR

Dr. Springer currently serves as the Executive Director for Purdue University’s Polytechnic Institute located in West Lafayette, Indiana. He has over 35 years of theoretical and industry-based practical experience from four disciplines: Software Engineering, Systems Engineering, Program Management and Human Resources. Dr. Springer possesses a significant strength in pattern recognition, analyzing and improving organizational systems. He is internationally recognized, has contributed to scholarship more than 150 articles, presentations, books and reviews on software development methodologies, management, organizational change, and program management. Dr. Springer sits on many university and community boards and advisory committees. He is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions; most recently he was awarded the Purdue University, College of Technology, Equity, Inclusion and Advocacy Award.

Dr. Springer received his Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Purdue University, his MBA and Doctorate in Adult and Community Education with a Cognate in Executive Development from Ball State University. He is certified as a Project Management Professional (PMP), Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR & SHRM-SCP), in Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), and, in civil and domestic mediation. He is a State of Indiana Registered domestic mediator.

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Mary E. Johnson Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Mary E. Johnson earned her BS, MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from The University of Texas at Arlington. After 5 years in aerospace manufacturing, Dr. Johnson joined the Automation & Robotics Research Institute in Fort Worth and was program manager for applied research programs. Fourteen years later, she was an Industrial Engineering assistant professor at Texas A&M - Commerce before joining the Aviation Technology department at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana in 2007 as an Associate Professor. She is a Co-PI on the FAA Center of Excellence for general aviation research known as PEGASAS and leads engineering efforts in the Air Transport Institute for Environmental Sustainability. Her research interests are aviation sustainability, data driven process improvement, aviation fuels, and engine exhaust emissions.

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Randy R. Rapp School of Construction Management, Purdue Polytechnic Institute

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Assoc. Professor Dr. Randy R. Rapp, D.Mgt, PE, is the Graduate Program Chair of the School of Construction Management at Purdue University. Post-baccalaureate professional engineering and construction management education has been an interest of his for more than 30 years. If more information is desired, please see

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The Professional Doctorate for Engineering & Technology Professionals

Given the escalating demands of our information age and the pervasiveness and multiplicity of new technologies it is no wonder that business and industry feels the need for appropriate education beyond the master's degree level (Bement, Dutta, & Patil, 2015, National Academy of Engineering). Furthermore, there seems to be significant call for more than the ubiquitous corporate professional development opportunities that address specific needed topics but in a rather non-systematic programmatic manner. The authors view the forces leading to the need for a professional doctorate as including; the disciplinary leadership of universities, the needs of incumbent and preparing professionals, emerging needs of future technologies, and the needs of business and industry. These four converging forces act on the core of the four primary aspects of advanced post-graduate, doctoral in this case, education that needs to be tailored to be responsive to the situation we face. The fields of Nursing, Engineering (in England), Industrial Technology (others?) have all made moves towards establishing a professional doctorate. With our mission to not only be responsive to the needs of business and industry, but also to lead in providing for a constructive environment for these sectors to flourish, Purdue University's Polytechnic Institute, in concert with its ProSTAR arm, has launched an initiative to conceptualize and deliver a professional doctorate focusing on technology leadership and innovation.

But first, What is a professional doctorate and how is it different that the other doctorates (PhDs) typically offered by research and doctoral intensive flagship universities? Simply put, professional doctorates focus on in-depth, cutting edge technologies, innovation skills and the leadership and effective organization of teams and corporate units. Such programs seek to prepare advanced level practitioners for business and industry rather than basic researchers for the academy. The goal is enabling increased competitiveness, sustainability and socially responsible endeavor.

In addition to cutting edge content, such professional doctorates must necessarily employ and integrate a significant variety of performance learning technologies, self-directed learning and corporate support for experiential learning. These programs must directly address the myriad of challenges facing business and industry and they will need to operate at the pace of such enterprises.

Instead of the typical research-focused dissertations such programs will conceptualize, research and plan for implementation of a field/practice based research and /or development project in any of the arenas of today's complex enterprise. Typically they will advance a state of a technology or practice from one TRL to the next higher level. In essence they will engage in use-inspired research.

The paper and presentation will detail the forces propelling the move to the professional doctorate. It will then, based on an extensive review of the literature, from Europe as well as the USA, highlight the salient characteristics of the existing professional doctorates and the fields in which they are found. Subsequently the authors will share key features of an industry-targeted design for a professional doctorate. A proposal will be overviewed in terms of the envisioned curriculum, delivery mechanisms, learning experiences and experiential components as well as a description of the target audiences. Time will be provided for a significant question and answer session

Ball, E. (2011). A systematic search and bibliometric study of the identity of the professional doctorate 2008-2011. Retrieved from

Bement, Jr., A., Dutta, D., & and Patil, L. (2015). Educate to Innovate: Factors That Influence Innovation: Based on Input from Innovators and Stakeholders. Washington, DC: National Academy of Engineering; University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Charity, I. (2010). PhD and professional doctorate: higher degrees of separation? Retrieved from

Committee on Examination of the U.S. Air Force's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and Its Strategy to Meet Those Needs, (2010). Examination of the U.S. Air Force's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Workforce Needs in the Future and Its Strategy to Meet Those Needs. Washington, DC: National Research Council.

Dutta, D. (2010). Rapporteur Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: National Academy of Engineering.

EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council). (2015). Engineering doctorate. Swindon, UK: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Fenge, L. (2010). Sense and sensibility: making sense of a Professional Doctorate. Reflective Practice. Retrieved from 10.1080/14623943.2010.516976

Fulton, J., Kuit, J., Sanders, G., & Smith, P. (2013). The Professional Doctorate: A Practical Guide. Retrieved from =&id=ZYkdBQAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=+%22professional+doctorate%22&ots=stm_5Qxc8m&sig=gvM4tRWRMnNF-aMZ5U4B56gVJ_A

Taylor, P. (2014). The professional doctorate. Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based …. Retrieved from 10.1108/HESWBL-03-2014-0008

Wildy, H., Peden, S., & Chan, K. (2015). The rise of professional doctorates: case studies of the Doctorate in Education in China, Iceland and Australia. Studies in Higher Education. Retrieved from 10.1080/03075079.2013.842968

Dyrenfurth, M. J., & Newton, K. A., & Springer, M. L., & Johnson, M. E., & Rapp, R. R. (2016, June), The Professional Doctorate for the Engineering & Technology Profession Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26996

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