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1 The Goals of Undergracluate Engineering Education The goals of undergraduate education in engineering are these: · To prepare graduates to contribute to engineering practice loy learning from professional engineering assignments; · To prepare them for graduate study in engineering; and · To provide a base for lifelong learning and professional develop- ment in support of evolving career objectives, which include lacing informed, effective, and responsible participants within the engineer- ing profession and in society. These goals recognize that engineers who move into various job assignments, either in engineering or in management, need continu- ous education. In general, undergraduate engineering curriculum is not intended to prepare the B.S.-degree candidate for a particular job in a particular industry. Gaining specific skills in the engineering practices of a given company requires on-the-job experience best gained through a professional apprenticeship. While a particular undergraduate engi- neering curriculum cannot lay the foundation for all of the areas that an engineer will need to master in a professional lifetime, it should pro- vide a base for lifelong learning. Within the framework of the general educational goals listed alcove, the objectives of undergraduate engineering curricula are as follows: 1. To provide an understanding of fundamental scientific principles and a command of basic knowledge underlying the student's field. 9
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10 ENGINEERING UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION 2. To convey an understanding of engineering methods such as anal- ysis and computation, modeling, design and experimental verification, as well as experience in applying these methods to realistic engineering problems and processes. 3. To provide the student with the following: a. An understanding of social and economic forces and their rela- tionship with engineering systems, including the idea that the best technical solution may not be feasible when viewed in its social, political, or legal context; b. A sense of professional responsibility developed through con- sideration of moral, ethical, and philosophical concepts; and c. Mastery of the ability to organize and express ideas logically and persuasively in both written and oral communications. These objectives are met mostly through formal undergraduate cur- ricula, which include design and laboratory courses and access to com- puters. Important complements to these activities are experiences gained through summer jobs, co-op programs with industry, and fac- ulty-supervised projects that often foster the ability of graduates to work in groups or as a team. Curricular Change Undergraduate engineering curricula are constantly evolving. Evo- lution occurs through the introduction of advanced material from grad- uate courses or from technological advances in professional practice. At times the rate of change is extremely rapid and appears to be revolu- tionary. Such changes cause either compression of existing course con- tent to make room for the new material or complete displacement of previously taught material to make way for the new material. Changes can also result from shifts in emphasis, such as those that occurred when engineering courses were restructured to emphasize the scien- tific basis of engineering and when increased emphasis on design and manufacturing influenced the curriculum. Revolutionary change in the curriculum is brought about by the creation of entirely new fields or by substantial revision of existing fields. For example, the creation of materials science as an independent discipline represented the appearance of an entirely new engineering field. The current revolution in electrical engineering results from the development of semiconductor materials and the growth of computer science, and revolutionary changes may occur in chemical engineering if biotechnology becomes an important industrial force.
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GOALS OF UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERING EDUCATION 11 Faculty Role Engineering faculty play a critical role in the introduction of the kinds of curricular change discussed alcove. Faculty unfamiliar with the research frontier will lag in the introduction of important new material into the curriculum; faculty far removed from advances in industrial practice will miss important opportunities to tailor the cur- riculum to crucial industrial needs which will lee to the disadvantage of their students. Thus, to preserve current relevance and vigor, it is essential that engineering faculty participate continuously in profes- sional development.
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