Click for next page ( 14


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 13
2 Forces Affecting the Engineering Community The second major task undertaken by the Panel on Infrastructure Diagramming and Modeling was to determine some of the forces, both external and internal, that affect the engineering community and, in turn, the practice of engineering. A number of these forces are discussed briefly below, followed by a summary of the panel's views on the out- look for engineering practice in the future. External Influences Some of the major external factors influencing the engineering com- munity include { 1 ) the supply of and demand for engineering students and graduates isee Appendix By, {2) government policies, t3) industrial and business practices, {4) societal expectations and realities, and {5) technological changes. SupplyofandDemandforEngineeringStudents and Graduates The number and academic quality of the students who begin and complete degrees in U. S. engineering institutions have a major impact on the engineering community. A few decades ago, fewer than half of the engineers in the United States had an engineering or college degree, and a significant proportion had no college degree. Since World War II, the supply of new entrants to the field has been dominated by those graduating from U.S. engineering institutions with a B.S. degree or 13

OCR for page 13
14 INFRASTRUCTURE DIAGRAMMING AND MODELING higher. As a result, the current engineering work force and the larger engineering community include primarily B.S. degree recipients. Also, the number of individuals going on to receive master's and doctoral degrees is increasing, and the number graduating with B.S. degrees is increasing at an even faster rate. The supply of engineering students and eventual graduates is directly related to birth rates, demographic factors, and the relative attractive- ness of engineering when compared to other intellectually demanding and quantitatively oriented career fields. Additional supply factors include the available educational resources and the standards of quality for admission to and retention in engineering courses of study. The extent to which the engineering community assimilates individuals who do not have engineering degrees and retains those with engineer- ing degrees or equivalent experience continues to affect the demand for . . engmeermg grac .uates. In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number and proportion of women, minorities, and foreign nationals who enter and graduate from U.S. engineering institutions. These increases are expected to continue, but future rates for women and minorities are directly and indirectly related to the extent to which the engineering community assimilates these new entrants. The foreign national engi- neering supply, on the other hand, is dependent on U.S. policies with regard to immigration and emigration. Government Policies Government policies and priorities have a major impact on engineer- ing practice and hence on the engineering community. Tax policies affect investment and the engineering work generated lay such invest- ment. Antitrust laws affect cooperative research and development among industries. Environmental laws spur technologies in waste treatment and disposal. Defense and space programs give impetus to a wide range of existing technologies and spawn a host of new ones. In addition, government levels of support for graduate education in engi- neering and science and university-leased research and development have an impact, especially on engineering facilities. In the aggregate, government policies strongly affect supply, demand, and quality in the . . . engmeermg community. Industrial and Private Business Practices Currently, about three-fourths of the total number of U.S. engineers are working in private industry; about one-half of those work in manu

OCR for page 13
FORCES AFFECTING THE ENGINEERING COMMUNITY 15 factoring. Because of these high proportions, the economic growth and personnel policies of private industry continue to lie dominant factors influencing the engineering community. Private industry considers the members of the engineering community as a vital human resource. And although the engineering community looks to industry as the . . . . . . . primary user of its services, a strong engmeermg community, sup- ported by a versatile educational system, is essential to maintaining the availablity of the engineering resources needed by industry. In the meantime, industry is obligated to use those resources effectively. Key factors in that utilization seem to be challenging work, adequate com- pensation, and enlightened management. Societal Conditions There is every reason to believe that rapid and accelerating societal changes will continue to have an impact on the engineering commu- nity. Major events both within and beyond society's control have sig- nificant technological impacts and directly affect the engineering community. For example, cold and hot wars and peace and disarma- ment all have major implications for the work activities of the engi- neering community. And issues such as environmental protection, world energy supplies, national defense, industrial productivity, space exploration, transportation, communications, health, and agricultural productivity continue to be major societal concerns that can generate demands on the resources of the engineering community. Some of these issues are affected by government policies and lousiness practices, but many of them depend more on the larger society's needs, goals, and . . . pnorltles. Responses to Change The emergence of new sources of engineering graduates ~ e.g., women and minorities i, the ability of the engineering community to assimilate a wide range of practitioners Technicians, technologists, nongrad- uates), changing utilization patterns, and new technologies have all combined to create a remarkably versatile and responsive engineering community. Internal Factors In addition to the external factors that affect the engineering commu- nity, there are several internal conditions that constitute important

OCR for page 13
16 INFRASTRUCTURE DIAGRAMMING AND MODELING influences. These influences are primarily related to three factors: the activities of the professional engineering societies, legal policies related to engineering licensing and certification, and communications and relations within the engineering community. Some progress has been made in achieving cooperation between the various engineering and engineering-related societies, including the organization of the American Association of Engineering Societies. Because of the divers- ity of the engineering profession, however, there continues to be considerable difficulty in organizing and maintaining a unified engi- neering organization similar to the American Medical Association in medicine and the American Bar Association in law. There seems to be a genuine desire among engineers to have a unified voice, especially at the national level on matters of public policy. However, the auto- nomy of the individual engineering societies and the diversity of engi- neering continue to inhibit the development of a single umbrella . . Organlzatlon. A related issue involves the relationship of engineering societies to other scientific and technological organizations, such as the American Physical Society, the American Chemical Society, and the American Society of Certified Engineering Technicians. Engineers and engineer- ing organizations often feel that they are excluded or have a limited voice with regard to public policy and support of programs for science, engineering, and technology. On the other hand, there is some disposi- tion on the part of engineers and engineering organizations to exclude technologists and their organizations from participating in the formu- lation of engineering-related decisions and policies. Evidence of engi- neering's concern about its relative status with regard to science can be found in proposed legislation to change the National Science Founda- tion to the National Science and Engineering Foundation. Its ambiva- lence about the role of engineering technologists can be seen in the efforts by some engineering societies to exclude technologists from engineering organizations and to minimize their voice in regard to science, engineering, and technology. Perhaps the most important internal factors affecting the engineer- ing community are its own actions, primarily through the engineering societies, to define the community, to influence standards for creden- tialing, to set standards for education and ethical standards for practice, and to guide young people into engineering careers. These activities can and do have profound effects on the size, composition, and compe- tence of the engineering community. They also affect its self-image and the image it projects to the public at large.

OCR for page 13
FORCES AFFECTING THE ENGINEERING COMMUNITY 17 Technology As a Driving Force for Change In addition to societal influences that affect the engineering commu- nity, the results of engineering tasks that is, the field's own products and the changes these products luring about have an equal or some- times greater influence on the composition of engineering, the engi- neering disciplines, the tools of engineering, and its methods and approaches. And although it is true that the emergence of new engi- neering disciplines as well as the transformation of existing ones has occurred throughout the history of engineering, today's changes are more pervasive and the rate of change is greater than in the past. Perhaps the cause of the greatest series of changes is the confluence of semiconductors, computers, and telecommunications in information technology. This confluence, in turn, has contributed to the movement of U.S. industry and the U.S. economy from one predominantly con- cerned with the generation of materials and products to one of provid- ing information and services. This major shift of focus is the fundamental cause of change in the engineering disciplines. To address this movement, changes in curriculum content as well as in existing engineering disciplines are occurring. The most profound is the change in the field of electrical engineering. Today, in many schools, it not only comprises the electric power and electronics disci- plines, but it also increasingly includes, as a minimum, computer engi- neering and, in some instances {i.e., at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford UniversityJ, computer science. These changes are also carried into the industrial environment. {The biggest subgroup within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers [IEEEJ is the computer society, certainly an expression of the increasing computer content in this profession's activities.J It would lie a serious omission, therefore, if we did not consider tasks related to computer systems as engineering activities, their products as engineering designs, and their practitioners as part of the engineering community. New technologies also create allied disciplines that evolve separately from and independently of the classical engineering disciplines and their foundations. Some examples of these allied disciplines are infor- mation systems technologies, artificial intelligence, industrial tech- nologies of many kinds, and other science-related disciplines. Also, fundamental disciplines merge. The lest example of such a phenome- non is bioengineering, a field in which, over time, an increasing num- l~er of engineers will lee employed. The conclusion to lie drawn from the changes cited alcove is that the

OCR for page 13
18 INFRASTRUCTURE DIAGRAMMING AND MODELING definitions of engineering and of the engineering community must be modified to make them consonant with changes to existing engineer- ing disciplines and to the emergence of new ones. This the panel has sought to do, as noted earlier in this report See Chapter 1~. Expected Impact of Advances in Engineering and Technology The panel noted important and critical advances in engineering and technology that are likely to have significant impact on the engineering community. It offers the following views on the nature of the expected impacts: The computer and the information explosion will have a profound impact not only on the future methods of engineering but also on the future problems, designs, and systems for which engineers will lie responsible. The engineering community will become more sensitive to the rapid developments that are taking place in computer science, informa- tion systems, industrial technologies, and other related disciplines. Those disciplines are developing curricula and training programs as well as career development programs independent of the engineering community. Individuals trained in these areas will provide a broad range of talent capable of undertaking work currently and previously done by engineers. These disciplines are likely to become major sources of influence and power in some of the new emerging technolo- gies, and it will become increasingly important to have closer coopera- tion between these new emerging disciplines and the larger engineering community. The aging of the engineering work force and the declining number of 18-year-olds, combined with an increasing demand in some disci- plines, point to the possibility of spot shortages in the supply of engi- neers in the late 1980s and 1990s. The resulting increased demand for engineers should produce a significant but necessarily time-delayed response to these shortages. These assumptions are supported by the following: A large cohort of engineers is approaching retirement, and demographic trends suggest that college enrollments will begin to fall in the late 1980s or sooner. Retirements will increase replacement demands whereas enrollment decline may operate to decrease the new supply. Also, responses to the resulting imbalances can be expected to experience time delays, which are inherent in adjustments in the edu- cational systems that provide new engineers. However, the very wide

OCR for page 13
FORCES AFFECTING THE ENGINEERING COMMUNITY 19 spectrum of talent and the diversity of the supporting engineering infra- structure should be sufficient to avoid a major supply/demand crisis {except for one that might be associated with a major war or catastro- phes). Present trends indicate that the makeup of the engineering work force and its supporting infrastructure is likely to become more diverse with increasing numbers and proportions of women, minorities, and foreign nationals. These compositional changes will be relatively slow, however, in view of the more than 1 million U. S. males that dominate the current makeup of the engineering work force. The dependency on foreign nationals as graduate students and as engineering faculty is likely to continue as U.S. engineering and engineering education become more international in scope. The panel anticipates that these new constituencies will have an important and constructive impact on engineering and on the larger engineering community. Graduate work in engineering will probably become more com- monplace, with the master's degree in engineering assuming increas- ing importance for work in research, development, and creative design. The doctorate in engineering will continue to be the primary require- ment for engineering college teaching, university research, and engi- neering educational administration. Although the M.B.A. will continue to be an important graduate degree for a small proportion of B.S. engineering graduates, there is a parallel need for graduate education or continuing education programs that focus specifically on engineering management. In addition, the doctorate in engineering and/or science probably will become increas- ingly important in industry and government, not only in research and development and its management but in some high-technology areas as well. Engineering education, engineering practice, and engineering jobs will become increasingly international in scope and will present not only unprecedented opportunities but major challenges as well. Increasingly, undergraduate engineering education will become a new form of general education for a technological age. Engineering education and the engineering community will face growing inside pressures for improvements in basic and engineering science education as well as in design and practice. There will also be increasing outside pressures to develop greater sensitivity to national, world, and societal problems related to science, engineering, and technology. In response to these developments, the engineering community will face increasing demands for both breadth and depth in education, .

OCR for page 13
20 INFRAS TR UC TURK DIA CRAMMING AND MODELING training, and experience. To meet these demands, engineering will need to provide not only higher levels of education and training beyond the traditional B.S. degree, but expanded and more readily accessible continuing education for its various engineering constituencies. Those constituencies will represent an increasingly broader spectrum of tal- ent. These will range from two-year associate degree engineering tech- nician and four-year bachelor's of engineering technology programs through bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree engineering pro- grams to advanced and professional degree programs in science and management. Mobility between and within engineering-related disci- plines will continue to increase.