Whitaker Foundation-funded development of biomedical engineering programs, as well as efforts on individual campuses exploring the wide range of experimentation enabled by ABET and its accreditation criteria, must be captured, distilled, and disseminated as “lessons learned” to the broader community. Where those efforts have had mostly local impact, the challenge is to promulgate their successes to other locales and, where appropriate, to coalesce their efforts on a national scale.
The Engineer of 2020 initiative does not assume that there is one right way to transform the learning environment; we recognize that we must understand and capitalize on the treasure that is the diversity of American higher education. Through this initiative, by 2020, engineering programs across the country might be designed for specific areas of distinction, perhaps serving the regional industrial community, perhaps linking to institutional objectives to infuse a global dimension into the undergraduate learning environment, perhaps focusing on a particular thrust within engineering, and/or spotlighting the development of leaders for the engineering profession. We recognize that support will be needed at the local level for adapting the work of others; that campus leaders must exercise leadership to shape an agenda for action that makes sense for them, given their mission, circumstances, and vision of the future. Success will require asking the right questions at each stage of the process and continually revisiting those questions in the context of the answers returned—creating, articulating, and driving a vision to implementation.
In addition to the experience of many active collaborations, another significant advantage over past efforts is in the electronic technologies that enable sharing of ideas, materials, and other resources relating to the transformation of individual courses or labs, departments, programs, or institutions. It will be important to approach this sharing of information systematically, integrating the identification, analysis, and dissemination of appropriate data and best practices into each stage of course, curriculum, and laboratory transformation.