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Transforming Engineering Education For The 21 St Century As An Engineering R&D Work By Using The Systems Approach

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Emerging Trends in Engineering Education

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1318.1 - 9.1318.10



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Paper Authors

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Simo Lehto

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Simo Lehto

Helsinki Polytechnic

Changes created by globalization

The paper describes the ongoing R&D work in Finland aimed at developing and implementing a new structure for engineering education (EE). The work is driven by the fundamental changes created by the economic and cultural effects of globalization.

At the beginning of the 21st century, most of the world is moving rapidly towards a global, market-oriented, real-time economy. This accelerating transition has led to a dramatically rising level of know-how and use of technology. Driven by continuing market liberalization, the transition continues at an accelerating rate. The increasing competition between companies forces routine manufacturing to be transferred to countries with low manpower costs. It also forces companies to adopt modern ICT tools (Information and Communications Technology) for automating routine work. At the same time, the global development is progressing towards the fulfillment of the basic human needs and, consequently, to the increasing emphasis of higher individual needs.

The new requirements produced by the increasing global competition and changes of societies can no longer be met by sporadic development. The situation forces organizations and people in the industrialized countries to make a fundamental transition: they must move from the routine (repetitive) operating mode to the systematic development (creative) mode. This shift demands a qualitative change in work methods, attitudes, organization, and management. In the global companies, the transition is being completed during this decade1.

Routine work and development work

The modes of operation of humans and organizations correspond to the three fundamental methods of human survival. They are maintaining the existing situation (repeating), improving the situation (developing), and removing the threat present in the situation (destroying). There are inherent differences between routine work and development work (and destructive work). The main purpose of routine work is to maintain a system in its present state. Routine work is generally repetitive and driven from outside. It uses existing knowledge and skills and lacks the tactical and strategic choices essential in development work. Much of routine mental work can be automated by means of modern ICT networks.

Development work means bringing a system into a better state through a path, which is unknown in advance. Development work in the real world involves differences of opinion, conflicts of interest, unexpected problems, errors, and temporary defeats. The proven means for successful development work is a goal-directed, systematic and creative, responsible, equal, long-term cooperation of selected, personally committed people, who possess the

Lehto, S. (2004, June), Transforming Engineering Education For The 21 St Century As An Engineering R&D Work By Using The Systems Approach Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--12760

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