FIGURE 3-1 Years of formal postsecondary education required to begin practicing in different fields. SOURCE: Russell et al. (2001).

more than willing to employ unlicensed engineers and train them in the specific needs of their business, the bachelor’s degree became and remains the overwhelmingly dominant ticket for practicing engineering.

It is unreasonable to expect that corporations will require more than a four-year engineering degree for entry-level employment, and thus it is unreasonable to expect that engineering schools will only graduate five-year (or more) degree students. If, as in the past, some schools move to a mandatory five-year program, students will flock to those schools that do not. Similarly, it is unreasonable to expect that professional licensure requirements will change in some way to become attractive to most baccalaureate engineers. Thus, other things being equal, we believe that engineering schools and professional societies need to look to other ways that reinvention of engineering education can enhance the perception of engineering as a profession. A possible alternative is the master’s degree, in particular, one that can be designed to be accredited and universally recognized and promoted by both schools and societies as a “professional” degree, perhaps along the lines of a more technology-based MBA. That degree will clearly have to provide value in the marketplace if large numbers of engineers are likely to commit to the time and expense to acquire it.

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