Report for NAE on Non-U.S. Standards for Pre-University Engineering Education

Marc J. de Vries

Delft University of Technology/Eindhoven University of Technology The Netherlands

Background of the Report

As part of an ongoing project, the National Academies has studied pre-university engineering initiatives, with a focus on curriculum. Part of that project was a survey of non-U.S. initiatives. The emphasis in the report I wrote for that project was on the content and practice of those non-U.S. programs. My conclusions were that there are some initiatives outside the United States, and to varying degrees they attempt to integrate science and math, serve pre-vocational and general education purposes, cover a spectrum of engineering domains, contain basic engineering concepts, and attempt to improve the public image of engineering. In this report, I investigate standards for pre-university engineering education, also from outside the United States.

The steps in producing this report were as follows:

  • First, a survey was made by Carolyn Williams (University of California) and Greg Pearson (NAE), in which they selected non-U.S. initiatives.

  • This material was handed to Marc de Vries (author of this report), who added some additional initiatives from less accessible languages (German and French).

  • An outline of the final report was communicated to Greg Pearson to see if the needs of the committee would be served by the proposed content.

  • The author made an analytical study of what the committee could learn from the selected initiatives. The present report includes descriptions based on the Williams/Pearson survey and the additions by the author and the author’s analysis.

Not surprisingly, the standards found in the preliminary survey by Carolyn Williams (University of California) and Greg Pearson (NAE) were directly related to the curriculum initiatives used in the previous project. In my own survey, I was able to add two new cases, namely from France and Germany (material that was not available in English). For some countries (Israel, Netherlands, Colombia), no standards were found in the previous report, and for that reason they are not discussed here. In this report, the focus is on the extent to which the standards in non-U.S. initiatives offer a sound basis for developing good practices for pre-university engineering education. By “sound basis,” I mean that the standards are sufficiently clear and unambiguous that teachers and curriculum developers can get a clear picture of what is expected of students.

In Section 2, I describe the standards in the various initiatives. This information is partially copied from my previous report. In Section 3, I analyze the characteristics of those standards to find directions for what good standards for pre-university engineering education should look like. In this report, I do not pay much attention to the engineering content in the standards, which was the focus of my previous report. Here I focus on aspects of the forms and structure of the standards.

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