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Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century
It is evident that the exploding body of science and engineering knowledge cannot be accommodated within the context of the traditional four-year baccalaureate degree. Technical excellence is the essential attribute of engineering graduates, but those graduates should also possess team, communication, ethical reasoning, and societal and global contextual analysis skills as well as understand work strategies. Neglecting development in these arenas and learning disciplinary technical subjects to the exclusion of a selection of humanities, economics, political science, language, and/or interdisciplinary technical subjects is not in the best interest of producing engineers able to communicate with the public, able to engage in a global engineering marketplace, or trained to be lifelong learners. Thus, we recommend that
1. The baccalaureate degree should be recognized as the “preengineering” degree or bachelor of arts in engineering degree, depending on the course content and reflecting the career aspirations of the student.
Industry and professional societies should recognize and reward the distinction between an entry-level engineer and an engineer who masters an engineering discipline’s “body of knowledge” through further formal education or self-study followed by examination. The engineering education establishment must also adopt a broader view of the value of an engineering education to include providing a “liberal” engineering education to those students who wish to use it as a springboard for other career pursuits, such as business, medicine, or law. Adequate depth in a specialized area of engineering cannot be achieved in the baccalaureate degree.
To promote the stature of the profession, engineering schools should create accredited “professional” master’s degree programs intended to expand and improve the skills and enhance the ability of an engineer to practice engineering. Thus, as an addendum to Recommendation 1, we recommend that
2. ABET should allow accreditation of engineering programs of the same name at the baccalaureate and graduate levels in the same department to recognize that education through a “professional” master’s degree produces an AME, an accredited “master” engineer.