change is reaching a critical mass and that coordinated action on a broad scale may be possible and effective.
Efforts to realign engineering education, of varying scopes, have taken place in almost every decade of the twentieth century, beginning in the early 1900s. (See the brief history provided by Bruce Seely in Appendix A.) As a student of this history, Seely suggests points of continuity between this initiative and efforts in past eras, including:
an explicit desire to increase the public recognition of the role of engineering professionals, to enhance the social status and prestige of the community by depicting a compelling vision of engineering;
a clear recognition of the need to attract and sustain the interest of students from the groups continually and currently underrepresented in the study and practice of engineering;
the complex relationship between academic engineering, the corporations and large industrial concerns that employ the great majority of engineering graduates, and the nation’s economy;
a continuous and sometimes contentious debate about the role of liberal studies (humanistic and social science courses) in preparing the professional engineer;
a persistent struggle to arrive at balance in the several curricular elements in the undergraduate engineering program—the scientific base, the technical core, professional and general education; and
lurking concerns about institutional inertia, whether in the form of faculty resistance to change or the challenges of moving the “battleship” of the modern research university.
He also suggests that present efforts are characterized by some positive points of departure with past efforts, particularly:
a motivation to think ahead as a community, to step beyond the immediacy of the moment and the challenges of the present to imagine the future;
the active engagement of experts from the field of management in the first phase of the Engineer of 2020 Project, informing the process of gathering facts, of forecasting future conditions,