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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop 2 Content of the Workshop The first evening of the workshop included dinner and a speaker who provided insights into lifelong learning in medicine and pointed to common ground in learning and applications shared by the medical and engineering professions. Charles Vest, who introduced the speaker, noted that it was indeed fortunate to have a speaker lead off the workshop by providing knowledge about what another profession does in regard to lifelong learning. The speaker, Dr. Chris Cassel, President of the American Board of Internal Medicine, addressed the issue of what the medical profession has learned about lifelong learning, specifically some of the challenges and ingredients for success. It was noted that in the areas of technologies, systems, and processes, the medical profession owes a debt to engineering. There have been discoveries, applications, and advances in these areas that have been adapted to medical procedures. Medicine has many important commonalities with engineering, such as a rapid rate of technological advance, the need for to stay abreast of changing technologies, and the direct impact of the field on societal well-being. Dr. Cassel went on to talk about what the medical profession has learned about how to educate physicians and how to certify physicians. Medical professionals must deal with a complex adaptive system as new discoveries are made and as new techniques are proven and adopted. An important variable in the medical profession is the interaction between the provider and the delivery system. The physician’s role is very complex because the physician, on the one hand, interacts with the entire delivery system; and, on the other, interacts as the provider of medical services. Dr. Cassel also addressed the certification of continuing education in the medical profession. An important issue is that board certification in the medical profession is a voluntary process. It is important for the “marketplace” (i.e., patients) to realize that maintenance of certification is a comprehensive assessment of up-to-date content knowledge, professionalism, and application of knowledge in practice, interpersonal skills, systems-based practice, and practice-based improvement. Dr. Cassel wrapped up her summary by pointing out that often conflicts of interest issues need to be addressed when considering who provides the continuing education. For example, accepting the offer of free education from a provider of a new piece of medical equipment is problematic. In the question and answer session that followed, there was further discussion concerning possible conflicts of interest in medical research, education, and practice when manufacturers and suppliers become too involved. In addition, the connection between continuing education
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop and certification in the health profession was discussed at length. The question of the relationship between lifelong learning and certification was raised repeatedly in the presentations and discussions that took place during the workshop. The full-day session of the workshop consisted of plenary sessions addressing the potential role of federal agencies in lifelong learning, examples of how the private sector approaches and uses lifelong learning, and the possible role of professional societies. The plenary sessions included individual presentations by notable experts in each area and two panels. Breakout sessions in the afternoon provided the opportunity for workshop participants to discuss the material presented in the plenary sessions. The workshop agenda can be found in Appendix B. 2.1 KEY ISSUES The full-day session of the workshop began with welcoming remarks by Deba Dutta, Program Chair, and Linda Katehi, Organizing Committee Chair. Linda Katehi began with the statement that lifelong learning is part of an engineer’s career—an observation that is understood by most, but seldom emphasized. She then introduced and thanked the Organizing Committee for this important workshop and the talented and powerful participants that were assembled there. Returning to the topic of lifelong learning as an integral part of an engineer’s career, she further emphasized the economic necessity for lifelong learning and the need for engineers to have opportunities to learn throughout their careers. Engineers change careers many times during their professional life and due to economic factors and the introduction of new technologies and engineering methodologies. Methods and time needed to receive “instruction has also changed. What used to be called “long distance learning” (because the U.S. mails were used for correspondence courses) has now become “online learning” (because the individual can sit down at his or her computer). Learning opportunities via online learning are often close to being instantaneously available. However, neither long distance learning nor online learning includes the presence of an instructor or other classmates. Universities are important because they add the social element and the vitality of a live community. Universities have a responsibility to respond to the needs of the engineer with respect to lifelong learning. Charles Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering, began the plenary session by reiterating the importance of lifelong learning. He then outlined the history of continuing engineering education, provided observations concerning the current state of continuing engineering education, and formulated questions and ideas that might be discussed as the workshop progressed. Dr. Vest summed up the history and what has been the primary problem with lifelong engineering education with the observation that “faculty won’t play and industry won’t pay”. In other words, academic faculty are concerned with teaching (that is, courses that provide credits for undergraduate or graduate degree programs), research, and tenure; and industry is worried that if they pay for engineers to advance their knowledge through lifelong learning, that knowledge might make them more likely to look for more lucrative employment elsewhere. This quandary led directly to the issue of who should be offering lifelong learning opportunities to the engineer. He gave examples of different scenarios of company and academic views as to how the question of continuing engineering education has been handled. One that was stunning was the example of the U.S. corporate view of lifelong learning for
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop engineers verses lifelong learning for management. Corporations are not predisposed to pay for engineers to participate in lifelong learning, but where a member of the management team is concerned, price is no object. After summarizing what has happened to the view of the need for lifelong learning for the engineer in the 1990s and the 2000s, he wrapped up his presentation with four reasons why lifelong learning for the engineer is very important: There is reason to believe that our “free ride” on the backs of engineers from other countries is in jeopardy (there are increasingly equally good opportunities for these engineers elsewhere—other than the U.S.); The impact of globalization (thus, the need to be current) on the American worker; The evolving nature of national needs (again, the engineer must be current and retool, if necessary); and The relentless pace of technological change (and again, the challenge of keeping current). These can be summed up by noting, as Dr. Vest did, that this is an important workshop given the collective knowledge about lifelong learning represented by the participants. He urged that this historic opportunity not be lost. Lifelong learning for the 21st-century knowledge revolution must be realigned to better equip today’s engineers to deal with present and future technological changes. The participants in the workshop constitute an excellent community to begin this process. Dr. Vest left the workshop participants with the following questions: Is American industry serious about lifelong learning? Who should and who will provide lifelong learning to the engineer? How can this dialogue on lifelong learning be encouraged and advanced? What is the role of government? Is this the opening for a transformative opportunity for the United States in global competition? Arden Bement, Director of the National Science Foundation, began by agreeing that the importance of lifelong learning for the engineer cannot be overemphasized. The traditional fields of engineering continue to evolve. New fields emerge, such as nano-technology, new and expanded variants of biotechnology, and informatics. There are also new demographics to take into account as the engineering profession progresses and adapts. There are over 1500 engineering programs in the U.S. It is important to remind ourselves that lifelong learning is not fixing something that is wrong, but it is enhancing and strengthening what is good in the profession. Lifelong learning spans 50 years of a career as opposed to 4, 6, or 8 years for a degree or advanced degree. But it does not even stop there—lifelong learning extends beyond a career to include mentoring of new engineers as they develop and progress. In today’s world of rapid scientific and engineering advancement, the half-life of an engineer’s technical knowledge is steadily reducing as the profession changes with time and new emerging fields. Lifelong learning can also help with job hunting (an important matter in this time of a slow economy), but the other side of the argument is that possible job hopping makes industry reluctant to pay. There are also financial factors when valuing investments in lifelong learning. Dr. Bement predicted that we will be looking for models of lifelong learning in other countries in the near future. The National Science Foundation can advance lifelong learning through the funding of new studies to better understand learning in the workplace; through funding of innovative
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop research; and through some programs that already exist. Times have changed—now we are concerned with “human capital” and a “knowledge infrastructure”. Mobility of workers is not a good reason for industry not to make an investment in lifelong learning. However, Dr. Bement presented several points of concern regarding the concept of lifelong learning. Three that were most salient are that lifelong learning is focused on today’s problems, not tomorrow’s; the benefits of lifelong learning have not been quantified; and the paradox that when things are good, there is no time and when things are bad, there is no money. He summarized his presentation by noting that it is a good juncture at which to look ahead and to consider the ways that lifelong learning can make a difference in the lives of individual engineers, in the innovative and competitive capacity of our economy, and in the vitality and relevance of the engineering profession. Dr. Bement noted that the participants in this workshop are probably some of the most appropriate individuals to begin the process of redirecting lifelong learning to increase the capability of engineers in the 21st century knowledge age. Dan Mote, President of the University of Maryland, began by reminding the workshop participants that lifelong learning brings engineers to the cutting edge of their fields. The rate of change in our culture regarding interaction with technology is accelerating and the half-life of knowledge that one graduates with is decreasing. He noted four examples: 1) one half of what is learned in the first year of study is outdated by the third year; 2) the top jobs in demand in 2010 did not exist in 2004; 3) the expected number of jobs a person will hold by age 40 is 5 to 6; and 4) engineers change jobs every 4 to 5 years. The role of universities to answer today’s needs is to offer new degree programs specialized to meet goals, offer courses in complementary fields, provide opportunities beyond the curriculum, and provide lifelong learning opportunities. He noted that the cost of hiring and having an engineer become conversant with the job and the company (6-12 months) is $20,000 to $80,000. In comparison, the cost for lifelong learning for 100 hours is $5,000 to $10,000; and the lifelong learning required to stay current is 100-300 hours/year. Dr. Mote predicted that lifelong learning in the future will have more online courses and webinars; be more multidisciplinary; consist of more partnerships among universities, government, and industry; and have more international partners. He finished his presentation with a short story to make an employer think: A CEO had just given a long and enthusiastic presentation about the importance of lifelong learning to him and his company. A comment from the audience raised the question of the high cost to the CEO and his company if his employees left the company soon after their education at company expense. In response to that question, he agreed that this situation would be a loss to the company, but what worried him more was not educating his employees and having them stay with the company. The federal agency panel members consisted of Steve Koonin, Under Secretary, Department of Energy; Tom Kalil, Deputy Director (Policy), Office of Science & Technology Policy; and Tom Peterson, Assistant Director of Engineering, National Science Foundation. Each gave short presentations then discussion followed. Steve Koonin suggested possibilities for different types of lifelong learning experiences and funding opportunities that could be developed by federal agencies, such as lifelong learning for engineers with “real jobs”, or a joint lifelong learning experience, where a mentor and student get away from the business world together for a learning experience. Tom Kalil noted that in the past lifelong learning has been somewhat focused on the disadvantaged. Perhaps a new possibility is to provide lifelong learning financial help through tax breaks such as Lifelong Learning Accounts (LiLA) or workers could set aside a pay increase
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop to engage in lifelong learning when there was a less busy time in the workload. He expressed the belief that it is important to teach skills that are transferable, and he noted further that if this community wants to engage the administration, then their articulation of the issues and progress will be better served if they are able to connect these issues with an administration initiative. Tom Peterson re-emphasized the necessity of lifelong learning and the need to prepare today to be ready to address “tomorrow’s issues” when they arise. The example he gave was climate change. He also stated that lifelong learning is not a new issue. There needs to be more collaboration across agency boundaries, and he emphasized that the opportunity for doing something important in lifelong learning is now. The topics brought up for discussion by the workshop participants included: What is the role of government in ensuring that federal employees have time and resources to pursue lifelong learning; How do agencies and industries know what is available in the area of lifelong learning; What money is available at the federal level; Who are the stakeholders; and Who is responsible in the government for lifelong learning. While many of these questions resurfaced in the afternoon breakout sessions, the two key issues imbedded in these five questions above are: 1) what is the role of the federal government in assisting with the funding to establish a national framework and policy for lifelong learning; and 2) what are the lifelong learning opportunities for federal employees. This panel provided the workshop participants to gain perspectives on the first issue which is very important for a new approach to lifelong learning since the federal government is an important stakeholder. The second issue had been considered by earlier speakers but within the context of engineers in industry. The main difference is rooted in the volatility of the job market in the private sector. The final presentation before lunch was by Nick Donofrio, IBM Fellow and Exec VP I&T Alumnus. He enlivened the workshop and gave the participants ideas to think about over lunch. He emphasized that an engineer needs to be learning, changing, advancing, and staying on the cutting edge throughout his career in order to be successful. Lifelong learning helps him to do that. He also noted that there are two areas in lifelong learning that are receiving increased attention now because of their importance to lifelong learning for the engineer. The faculty members who are providing lifelong learning for engineers are finding and supplying what industry needs; and employers are finding the value of replacing some work time with learning time has become increased with the rapid changes in technology. Among the stimulating concepts left for the workshop participants to ponder were ten emphases: 1) today there is a “technology immersion”—younger people accept technology as normal; 2) the world is getting progressively interconnected; 3) some things are learned by simply showing up; 4) regarding lifelong learning, it is important to listen to industry and understand its needs; 5) an engineer must be adaptable; 6) an engineer will perish if he can not change (advance); 7) engineering is a wealth generator; 8) the driving question of lifelong learning is “what is the value?”; 9) a service-based economy is a driver of change; and 10) in 2006, for the first time, there were more people in the service industry than in agriculture in the world.
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop After lunch, the professional society panel members, with Enrique Gomez from the Society for Hispanic Engineers, Gerry Galloway from the American Society of Civil Engineers, and Peter Finn from the Society of Women Engineers, each gave short presentations. Then discussion followed. Enrique Gomez noted why lifelong learning is important to his segment of the U.S. population. The Society of Hispanic Engineers has 10,500 members. However, while the Hispanic population in the U.S. is the fastest growing segment of the population, it is the least represented in STEM fields, has the fewest number of college degrees, and has the lowest median income. A solution lies in lifelong learning, which up to this point has not been an important part of the student’s or professional’s life. Gerry Galloway outlined the importance of lifelong learning to his members. In his view, it is essential that civil engineers continue professional development throughout their careers. In order to become and stay credentialed, they must attain the requisite body of knowledge; have experience; and continue their professional development throughout their careers. The American Society of Civil Engineers also supports specialty certification as an additional credential following licensure. The American Society of Civil Engineers serves as the interface between practitioners, educators, lifelong learning opportunities, and certification. Peter Finn noted that his members are self-directed learners. For the Society of Women Engineers, professional associations play a central role for professionals looking for lifelong learning opportunities. They use self-assessment activities to guide learning, and they blend individualized learning plans with mentoring and coaching. One of their main goals is filling the gaps in knowledge needed. 2.2 SPECIFIC OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS RAISED Breakout session were structured around specific questions related to the current framework for lifelong learning shown in Figure 1. The breakout sessions met for 1½ hours and then reported back to the workshop as a whole. The individual sessions, all moderated by members of the Organizing Committee, were LLI Models and Program Structure, with Jim Porter as Moderator; LLI Content and Certification, with Phil Woodrow as Moderator; Cyber-infrastructure support for the LLI, with Pat Natale as Moderator; and the Organizational Support for the LLI, with Betty Shanahan as Moderator. The general topic of the workshop was the pressing need (imperative) for lifelong learning and the present status of learning opportunities for engineers. Thus, the presentations during the plenary sessions set the context for the breakout sessions which provided an opportunity for discussion focused on more specific questions related to learning opportunities for engineers. Many ideas, observations, and questions surfaced during the breakout sessions. Each session was provided as an initial starting point with four general questions. Ideas, points for discussion, questions, and possible next steps were brought back to the gathered participants. The following are some that seemed to generate particular interest and discussion: It is important to note that the four breakout groups were not Academy-appointed committees and that the summaries of each session reflects the views of the individuals who participated in the specific breakout session discussion at the workshop—not necessarily those of the institution or the workshop planning committee. The ideas and suggestions for next steps put forward should not be construed as consensus recommendations of the individual breakout groups, the workshop participants as a whole, or the National Academies.
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop Figure 1. Current framework for lifelong learning 2.2.1 LLI Models and Program Structure Participants in this breakout session addressed the issues of assumptions underlying current practices; learning needs of the engineer in the 21st century; unmet needs of the knowledge economy; relevant current practices; and a predictive model for fostering continuous improvement.2 Some of the ideas of individual session participants brought back to the workshop plenary include the following: To gain the level of support needed to make LLI a sustainable model for engineers the benefits should be better quantified. This includes defining the value to all relevant stakeholders (employers, employees, and the economy). To have maximum positive impact any LLI components should be delivered on a (just in time) JIT basis. Learning needs will continue to evolve with the changing roles of engineers. Discipline specific technical fundamentals will remain necessary but not sufficient to allow the engineer in the 21st century to deliver and gain optimum value from their competencies and contributions. A functional understanding of and ability to apply leadership, team 2 The breakout session was moderated by Jim Porter and included Bernard Amadei, Bill Badger, John Casazza, Enrique Gomez, Dominico Grasso, Nancy Martin, Kent Rochford, Debra Stewart , and Galip Ulsoy.
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop building, non-capital project and financial management and work process design skills will be imperative. In addition, an appreciation for cross competency fundamentals will be very helpful. Major drivers for lifelong learning are self-improvement and corporate need or opportunity. What is needed in addition are compelling core reasons, such as a culture that values lifelong learning. Some participants in this session questioned whether a common lifelong learning provider or coordinator would be helpful to make the issue of lifelong learning more compelling. Some major barriers to achieving sustainable systems for lifelong learning were identified, including deficiencies with regard to personal incentives, a convenient infrastructure, guidance for self-assessment, and assistance for what is viewed as an information disconnect between the CEO level and middle management regarding the value of lifelong learning. It is necessary to define the “big picture” (meaning a national framework) before defining a “sustainable model and structure” to achieve it. Key items missing in the current corporate environment are a well defined path for technical progression and a lack of value for a "learn, teach, learn" culture. Any sustainable model will need to be established as adaptable to evolving needs over time and be nationally leveraged. It will need to have a clearly apparent single point of contact developer and a formalized framework such as a competency/career aspiration matrix to guide the development and evolution. It will also need to include self assessments, common competency and performance standards, and a process to allow best practices and content to be rapidly shared. Some LLI core questions were noted as potentially valuable for future discussion: Are there some existing continuing education programs that would be good reference models? Should all engineers be licensed? What would a LLI culture "look" like? Who are the critical stakeholders related to LLI success: engineers; users; academia, professional organizations, society? 2.2.2 LLI Content & Certification Participants in this breakout session addressed the issues of who determines, or what drives the content of lifelong learning for the engineer—who provides it, who measures effectiveness; i.e., certifies it; limitations in current practice in the workplace; elements from current practice that are worth preserving; and a predictive model for fostering continuous improvement. 3 Some of the ideas and questions brought back to the workshop plenary by individual breakout session members include the following: 3 This breakout session was moderated by Phil Woodrow and included Rich Andrews, Susan Bailey, Henry Marcy, Roger McCarthy, Toni Marinilli, Kimberly Markiewicz, Frank Mayadas, Rick Miller, Steve Rottler, and Susan Zawislak.
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop The question of learned content and certification revolved around what is needed first. Learned content is needed to enter the workforce. Inherent in the learning needed to obtain an academic credential is the ability to learn how to learn. Lifelong learning is beyond learned content via academic venues. Lifelong learning is the opportunity to sustain and acquire further skills and to further increase the individual's capacity to contribute to both personal aspirations and to society. Certification is the assurance that the learning content has been realized according to expected levels of proficiency as measured by testing and, in some cases, experiential accomplishments. Certification is a term that will need better definition as it currently engenders a formal, recognized third party (state, professional society, etc.) administered process. Learning certified by these external bodies may need requirements for engineering professionals depending on their career paths, job requirements and to assure external credibility. There is a general need to demonstrate proficiency via effective application of learning. Some organizations deliver "training" for which the outcome is "learning" based on testing or other measures of proficiency (projects, etc.). Certification may be regarded as the highest level of learning assessment and can provide "common denominators" across the engineering profession and within specific engineering disciplines. Continuous improvement is an important aspect of lifelong learning. Behaviors that include self-assessment and willingness to change (advance), as well as a learning environment and an appropriate culture are key contributors to this continuous improvement mindset. When considering whether non-traditional learning processes; e.g., informal learning, can achieve credibility, the key is certification. Certification is necessary because degrees must be supplemented with post-academic environment learning and experience. Learning and proficiency (certification) are part of a learning culture based on principles of inclusion and diversity, collaboration, measurable outcomes; i.e., performance competency, and a life-cycle framework of renewal, adaptability, and professional growth. As organizations focus on continuously improving development of human assets, a disciplined and competencies-driven development of the knowledge, skills, and worker motivation is typical. This predictive model provides an on-going tactical and strategic assessment of competencies versus the capabilities of the workforce provides the driving force for defining learning needs. The resulting learning programs work to close the competencies and capabilities gap. In this model, is certification the only way to measure capabilities? As engineers work to innovate and serve the needs of society, how is society convinced that the engineer’s training, learning, certification, and performance are credible? Similarly, how is this value-add demonstrated to all engaged stakeholders? 2.2.3 Cyber-infrastructure Support for LLI Participants in this breakout session addressed the issues of modalities of delivery for lifelong learning; the space-time limiting factor in distributed workplace learning; new learning models enabled by cyber-infrastructure; whether a new workspace model is needed for the 21st century; social impacts of on-line versus face-to-face learning models; and a predictive model for
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop fostering continuous improvement.4 Some of the ideas brought back to the workshop plenary by individual breakout session members include the following: Learning is fundamentally social. Peer-to-peer learning happens in study groups. Distributed and virtual study groups work well. Modalities of delivery could be tailored for focused discussion groups, study groups, personalized training, or an agent-based system. The opportunities are unlimited; however, it is not clear how some of these can be best accomplished online. Creativity and technology will drive this outcome. Regarding limiting factors, it was noted that there are still regions in the U.S. where access to the web is limited. Export control and questions regarding intellectual property must be carefully considered, and need to recognize that the virtual world is often very clumsy. Cyber-infrastructure has enabled learning on demand, and a new generation of highly visual simulation model for understanding complex systems. Larger simulations and models can be “constructed” because of the computational capacity that cyber-infrastructure enables. These simulations enable either individual or peer based tinkering—learning by experimenting and seeing the consequences. Hopefully such environments can also be augmented by intelligent agents that can coach and critique what the user is doing. The issue of accrediting content posted on a cyber-site was raised. This is an evolving issue in the web2.0 social media world that requires one to look at what information is now stable, what is not and the edit trajectories. The contested knowledge and analysis is a great learning experience. A big organizational challenge is how to restructure the workplace to become a learningscape since that might be the only way to keep up with the accelerating pace of change. Sending people back to colleges will create an alienated generation; hence perhaps we should focus more on intrinsic rewards that drive productive inquiry and peer based learning as part of one’s natural ongoing work 2.2.4 Organizational Support for LLI Participants in this breakout session addressed the issues of what current financial models exist; what human relations policies support lifelong learning for the engineer; what elements should be preserved; what organizational and personal culture supports lifelong learning in the 21st century; what management practices need to change to support lifelong learning in the workplace; and a predictive model for fostering continuous improvement.5 Discussions included reports of what is already underway in large multi-national companies, and what else might be done to support and advance lifelong learning in these settings. There was agreement amongst participants and a common understanding of how essential this type of networking/exploration is to the organizations. Corporate leaders in this session engaged in serious discussion of whether a new organization needed to be created that would set standards for this new type of 4 This breakout session was moderated by Pat Natale and included Nelson Baker, John Seely Brown, Gordon Day, Peter Finn, Gerry Galloway, Gaeta Isaura, Henn Rebane, Karie Willyerd, and Bill Wulf. 5 This breakout session was moderated by Betty Shanahan and included Andy DiPaolo, Linda Katehi, Jud King, Terri Lomax, Nan Mattai, Sean Newell, Tom Paterson, Chris Riegel, and Karen Tancredi.
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop collaborative/cooperative learning and the parameters of what companies would provide and how employees might see their individual careers also benefitting. Some of the ideas brought back to the workshop plenary by individual breakout session members include the following: Most outstanding was the strong agreement about the value of encouraging and supporting lifelong learning in the workplace on a formal and ad hoc basis, considered critical for nurturing the climate of innovation and creativity and permitting temporary networks to emerge, live, and terminate when their roles were over. The learning communities are a source for new thinking, new ideas, and possible breakthroughs on difficult scientific and engineering problems—central to the company's future success. There is a tension and possibly a disconnect between the lifelong learning objectives to ensure an individual engineer remains relevant through his/her career and the learning objectives an employer has for an engineer to be productive while he/she is an employee. This needs further study. If lifelong learning is a greater good, federal financial programs should encourage and facilitate it (such as flex benefits used for tuition). The drivers for organizational support and cooperation among stakeholders need to be better defined. Possibilities to justify lifelong learning include: (a) business cases for company CEOs that investing in lifelong learning for employees is a business investment that attracts and retains top employees; (b) business cases for policy makers that lifelong learning is a public good so that it is promoted and funded (c) the needs of individuals such as women returning to the workforce or retraining for engineers in diminishing technologies. Missing in the workshop discussion but necessary to consider: the implications of communities of interest in lifelong learning and also semi- and informal communities of practice; underemphasized university programs; and corporate universities structured around domains and competencies There was inadequate consideration of whether lifelong learning should be considered at a global, national, or state levels. Furthermore, insufficient attention was given to the role of international activities and to association such as the International Association of Continuing Education (IACEE) and the International Federation of engineering Education Societies (IFEES) which provide a forum for deeper engagement on continuing education. Perhaps a collaborative/cooperative organization to set standards is needed. Standards include competency models for minimum and expanded knowledge/skills in an area and transportable certification of knowledge/skills 2.3 NEXT STEPS The workshop ended with a call for continued discussion and input. The workshop is documented at a website http://www.llproject.org/ which provides an overview of the motivation for the workshop, the workshop agenda including links to remarks delivered and presentation slides, a bibliography, as well as al listing of the organizing committee members and agenda of
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop the committee’s meetings. The website includes a contact link so that visitors can providing further input. 2.4 SUMMARY A repeated theme in the remarks of presenters is that in this age of rapid technological change and knowledge creation, an engineer must continue to learn throughout his or her career. Dr. Katehi observed that learning is a continual process throughout an engineer’s career. Dr. Vest noted that engineers are often caught in a conflict between the goals of their employers and the goals of current continuing education providers. Dr. Bement suggested that new models for lifelong learning will emerge. And, Dr. Donofrio predicted that information technologies will play a prominent role in future lifelong learning. As recalled by Dr. Mote, there is significant employer interest and concern about the quality and currency of lifelong learning. Perhaps, a workplace appropriately structured and augmented by access to cyberinfrastructure can be a powerful way to achieve sustainable lifelong learning. Some other observations made by presenters and participants included the belief that it is now clear that the engineering professional is no longer competing solely in a domestic market, but rather in a global economy. Career trajectories will take on many more directions. Further, lifelong learning should be provided through a collaborative effort among industry, academia, the government, and professional societies. It is not clear, however, where the leadership of this collaborative effort should be, nor was there agreement as to the relative responsibility of each of these entities. The responsibilities to be allocated include those for providing funding, accrediting educational materials, providing course delivery, and certifying learning by the engineer. In considering course delivery, several questions arise. For example: How important is the social aspect of lifelong learning? Where does the social aspect fit in the overall equation? Is online learning preferable because it is on-demand, or is it preferable simply because it may be less expensive to provide? How do questions of intellectual property factor in? The participants agreed that these important questions need to be explored further in a comprehensive study of lifelong learning. Repeatedly mentioned, but with differing opinions about the direction, were the sometimes interconnected issues of lifelong learning and certification. Can education be separated from evaluation and still provide the credibility needed by the engineering professional? Is there an answer to the question of how to convince the general public that lifelong learning (or whatever it will be called so as to best capture the concept that was the focus of the workshop) is not fixing something that is wrong, but enhancing and strengthening what is good? When that issue is resolved, the question of demonstrating the added value of lifelong learning to stakeholders and the general public alike will be somewhat simplified. Indeed, perhaps this revitalization of lifelong learning should have a fresh name to convey the ideas that the learning is social, situated, intended to deepen and broaden the engineer’s knowledge and capabilities and is enhanced by the disposition of productive inquiry. Lifelong learning in the 21st century is dynamic and integrative in that it pulls together ideas from different disciplines and integrates those ideas with basic engineering training and knowledge. It
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Lifelong Learning Imperative in Engineering: Summary of a Workshop includes the agility and adaptability and an element of perpetual motion necessary to maintain a competitive edge. Lifelong learning is simply a necessary part of an engineer’s career. Several of the plenary speakers expressed the belief that it is now time to redefine lifelong learning to strengthen and expand the role of the engineer in the interest of increasing our country’s global competitiveness.
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