Monday, 16 March 2015

Initiatives in Fixing Engineering Education

For some reason. more or less all of the well-known initiatives in realigning engineering education with engineering practice come from the US. They have recognized the same problem as we have:

"Engineering education programs throughout much of the 20th century offered students plentiful hands-on practice: Accomplished and experienced engineers taught courses that focused on solving tangible problems. But as the century progressed and scientific and technical knowledge expanded rapidly, engineering education evolved into the teaching of engineering science.

Teaching engineering practice was increasingly de-emphasized. As a result, industry in recent years has found that graduating students, while technically adept, lack many abilities required in real-world engineering situations.

Major companies created lists of abilities they wanted their engineers to possess (e.g. Boeing's Desired Attributes of an Engineer). To encourage schools to meet real world needs and rethink their educational strategies, the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, ABET, listed its expectations for graduating engineers.

Industry and ABET had identified the destination; it was up to educators to plan the route. Faced with the gap between scientific and practical engineering demands, the educators took up the challenge to reform engineering education. The result of the endeavor is the worldwide CDIO Initiative"

Two other programs linked mainly through one man also address these same problems; Illinois iFoundry/Olin's Big Beacon. These two also bring in humanities subjects in line with the US Liberal Arts model of education in what look to be credible and appropriate ways.

There are some in other countries who are trying on some of these ideas and approaches for size, but the Americans seem to be taking the initiative here..