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Technological Education JOSEPH M. PETTIT In industry and government nationally awl worldwide, decisions in which technology is a big factor must be made every day. We will make better dec~szor~s in the twenty-first century if more of our cit- izens, managers, school board mergers, lawmakers—and their eco- nomic advisers—have had an analytical, rigorous curriculum preferably in the application of science to society, which typifies the best of engineering educatiorl. Among, the major themes developed in this volume on economics and technology is He role of He key infrastructures, which include education. I was asked originally to discuss engineering education; however, just as the world of economics has more participants than economists, so does tech- nology have more participants than engineers. Hence, this chapter discusses technological education in a broader sense, although it focuses on the edll- cation of engineers since Heirs is a leadership role. It also addresses the subject of economics in the education of engineers and mentions the need for technology in the education of economists. Engineers and economists have a common interest in technological change, though they see it from different vantage points. Both engineers and econ- omists become involved in policymaking. There is surely need for improve- ment in U.S. economic growth and competitiveness in world markets. Better cooperation and mutual understanding between engineers and economists could well lead to better policies. Dialogue between engineers and economists can benefit both as they learn of each other's concerns, priorities, insights, and methods. 255
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256 JOSEPH M. PEITIT TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES Let us now turn to the questions of who provides our technology, especially technological innovation, and how they are educated. First, the technology team is like a modern surgical team, which consists not only of the surgeon but also of other competent persons of many specialties and levels of edu- cation. In technology, there is not just the engineer, although he or she is a key person, like the surgeon. There are others on the team.-Unlike the surgeon, Me engineer may have only a bachelor's degree, or a master's or doctor's degree. Engineenng education at the bachelor's level is regulated by a national body, the Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Dur- ing the course of ABET's regular 6-year inspection cycle, the visiting teams look for quality and check curriculum content, which is specified as to minimum content in venous subjects. An engineering curriculum, to be classed as such, must have at least 2~/: years of mathematics, science, and engineering subjects. Included must be at least ~/z year of mathematics beyond trigonometry, 1 year of basic sciences (e.g., chemistry and physics), 1 year of engineering sciences (e.g., fluid mechanics not normally a part of phys- ics courses), and at least ~/2 year of "engineering design" (synthesis, as opposed to scientific analysis). These requirements are minimal, and most curricula contain more. To prevent a curriculums becoming too exclusively technical and theoretical, there are some other important requirements. There must be adequate lab- oratory experience and competency in oral and written English, and there must be provided "an understanding of the ethical, social, and economic [emphasis added] considerations in engineering practice." Finally, there must be at least ~/z year in the humanities and social sciences, not counting subjects like ROTC or language-skills courses. Economics is especially mentioned as an appropriate subject in the social sciences. Engineenng is not science, although in modern times it is heavily science- based. The difference is emphasized in the ABET requirement for engineering design. It is this component of the curriculum that is most relevant here, and I shall quote from the ABET cntena: The ren',ire~m~ntc have heen ~.ct~hli~heA in r~
TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION - 257 engineers include two relevant points. First, engineers are expected to become leaders in society and not merely backroom technical workers (some are, of course, but from personal choice). Hence the requirements for humanities, social sciences, communication skills, and an appreciation of the social and economic context of their work. Engineers will also be supported by several classes of technical staff, including craftsmen like machinists and electricians, technicians with 2 years of postsecondary preparation, and persons in a category new since World War II—engineering technologists who are grad- uates of 4-year cumcula accredited by ABET. The engineering technology curriculum is similar to engineering in many respects, but it features more laboratory, hands-on experience, less theory, and more state-of-the-art prac- tical knowledge. Such graduates can design today's equipment, but the en- gineers are better prepared to design tomorrow 's. Second, engineers are riot illiterate in economic factors, in the role of the marketplace, in the trade-offs between price and performance. Nor are they ignorant of the social context of their work, wherein choice between alter- native designs may be a political rather than a technical decision. Engineering work cannot usually be accomplished by individuals. For the most part, an engineer is the leader of a team. Success on small projects leads to responsibility for ever larger activities and a larger management role. Many engineers migrate gradually into general management. They begin to need more management education. If they remain in more technical roles, they gradually need additional education in science and technology i as new developments in their fields make their earlier learning obsolescent. (For example, I was first educated in vacuum-tube electronics and later had to educate myself in solid-state electronics, such as transistors and integrated circuits.) Thus it must be recognized that continuing education has become an important need as the pace of technological innovation has increased. Much Is written about continuing education for engineers and much of this kind of education is available but not enough is being utilized. A survey of 3,000 engineers in industry taken in Me 1960s revealed that only one-quarter of them were taking continuing education courses, and only one- half had ever done so. ~ A brighter picture is to be found in the popularity of graduate, degree- credit courses taken by young engineers at their employment sites. Electronic delivery modes such as microwave transmission in local zones and videotapes delivered by vehicle to more distant sites, overcome distance. Course trans- m~ssion by satellites at reasonable cost can be anticipated soon. A brief mention of numbers may be in order. The latest national data, which are for 1983, show that 72,741 bachelor's degrees were awarded by *R. Perrucci, W. LeBold, W. E. Howland, The engineer in industry and government, Engineering Education, March 1966:237-259.
258 JOSEPH M. PETIT 271 institutions.* Of those institutions, 256 have one or more ABET- accredited curricula. At the graduate level, 19,909 master's or graduate professional degrees and 3,023 doctor's degrees were awarded. Such numbers are not meaningful unless compared with something. Are they large or small compared with figures for other nations? Are they in- creasing or decreasing? On the latter point, they have been increasing. The nearly 73,000 cited above is the largest bachelor' s-degree output ever. But it will decline. The number of engineering freshmen follows the population trend for 18-year-olds, both of which peaked about 1980 and are now de- clmmg. But engineering enrollment is also influenced by a "popularity cycle." Certain fields of engineering are especially popular with students these days, notably electronics and computers. A current force in the popularity cycle is the much-publicized shortage of engineers for our fast-growing micro- electron~cs and computer industry. I believe that the popularity of engineering is too much influenced by journalists, who tend to treat the output of engineering graduates as a mar- ketplace commodity, to be measured against the number and apparent trends in jobs specifically labeled for engineers. The situation is really quite elastic, and there is probably no definition of shortage or surplus. Even if Here are not enough graduates to fill the desired hiring tables, industry does not shut down. If there are more graduates than there are narrowly specified job openings, then we have or should have—a healthy supply of well-educated young people for industry and government. This is much like the situation for graduates who majored in English, political science, or even economics. Indeed one could argue that in this highly technological age, with so many corporate and political decisions having major technical dimensions, our nation should have more of its decision makers educated in the discipline of . . engmeenng. Coming back to the numbers, it might seem that 73,000 is a large number of bachelor graduates. Yet the United States ranks behind Japan and West Germany in per capita engineers in the population; indeed Japan graduates twice as many engineers per capita as we do—and far fewer lawyers! TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION IN JAPAN Japan is the formidable competitor of the United States in technological innovation, economic grown, and success win manufactured products in He world marketplace The recent success of Japan in world markets for high technology products has been a matter of study and concern in the United States; since the era *Engineenng degrees granted, 1983, Engineering Education 74 (Apnl 1984):64~645.
TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION 259 following World War it, Japan has become the leader in world markets in autos and electronics. Why? Is Japanese engineering education different from ours? Is it newer and better? My study and visits lead me to believe that it is not. The curriculum is traditional. However, entrance to Japanese uni- versities is highly competitive and requires rigorous preparation for national exams. But an important difference from U S. engineering occurs after grad- uation and first employment. At that time there begins a whole new phase of education in industry utilized to a far greater extent than in U.S. industry. Young Japanese engineers are rotated—over a period of years through many departments, working closely with all classes of workers. It is not just an orientation tour. They are also assigned to focal instruction in He special processes and techniques of their employer, in addition to taking further courses outside. The employer can afford to make a large invesunent in developing engineers because of the long-term employment practice in the leading Japanese com- pan~es. The employee is assured of a continuing job and he or she, in turn, does not leave to join a competitor. There are other important factors in the success of the Japanese, including weir highly discipline<] study and utilization of technology available from He United States. They use it better than we ourselves have. The matter of discipline is worth a few more words. It seems to me that the higher the level of technology in a society the higher the degree of discipline required. This discipline must be a characteristic of all per- sons, not merely of the scientist who finds new knowledge or of the engineer who incorporates that knowledge into the design of a new device or system. It must also include managers and workers who manufacture the device or system, and those who install and maintain it. And, finally, there must be discipline on the part of those who must put this technology to use. Technology cannot be purchased and expected to function well for each new owner. Discipline related to technology is strongly related to cultural factors, which are slow to change and with respect to which certain societies seem to have a time advantage. Japan seems to be doing especially well. Of course there are over aspects of Japanese competition win He United States that do not derive from engineering education, nor can Hey be over- come Trough engineering education alone. For instance, in Japan Here has been much better cooperation among labor, industry, and government, evi- dently built on a national consensus to succeed in He international market- place. We have no such consensus; instead Here seems to be a long-standing distrust between labor and management, between government and business. This can be seen in our antitrust legislation, which was derived, understand- ably, from conditions during the nineteens century, but such restrictions are now a serious handicap.
260 JOSEPH M. PkTTIT FUTURE DIRECTIONS Returning now to the U.S. situation in engineering education, we are in a period of tension due to the current imbalance in U.S. engineering, man- power. Industry has far more vacant positions designated for engineers than there are graduates emerging from our universities. Those of us in the uni- versities also have a serious imbalance, namely, a large, recent wave of undergraduates wanting to study engineering and a serious shortage of avail- able faculty. Starting salary rates for new engineering faculty have had to be increased sharply, causing us to divert money from laboratory equipment and other needs, with the result that we have a serious deficiency in necessary instructional facilities. At the same time, we should seriously question how much we should expand our engineering colleges, even if we could have the necessary resources. What are the real future needs for engineering graduates in our increasingly high-tech society? Let us look more closely at our future needs in the educational sector. Engineers and managers are now producing most of our products in estab- lished industries. But, in addition, there are newer, high-tech industries. These are the toolmakers of our day those who provide the means of making high-tech products. Creating, designing, and fabricating the high-tech tools calls for a different-mix of engineers and other employees than there would be in general industry. It is not just that more skilled technicians are needed, but more Ph.D.s. There must be more engineers with advanced levels of education and capability, and these must come from our university-level engineering institutions. They must also have participated in research. Not that they will pursue careers in research as such, but they should learn to confront a new field in which not everything is known and to proceed sys- tematically and effectively to accumulate the necessary knowledge. This experience can be provided in a university while the graduate student is taking additional course work, perhaps in mathematics and physics, as well as in engineering itself. We need to attract the very best graduate students, and industry must help them complete their advanced studies. At the present time, too many of our best students are leaving at the bachelor's level to take high-paying jobs in industry. Then, of course, there is an increasing need for engineers in our basic industries. such as the electric utility industry, as well as in agriculture, transportation, and so on. To this should be added the growing service sector, particularly areas like office automation. Here the objective is clear. We need an ample supply of well-prepared engineering students. Unfortunately, the supply is greatly influenced by the positive or negative impressions gained by young people and Heir parents from the newspapers as to the apparent future need of society for engineers. There is a special problem at the present time in the United States. First- year students in engineering curricula are not well prepared when Hey come
TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION 261 to us. Precollege education in mathematics, science, and even English, is so inadequate that many students must spend time doing remedial work, and a large amount of university-level resources must be diverted to this work. I-he problem has been given much recent attention as a national crisis, but apparently it will be left to state and local corrective action. Yet it seems doubtful that we can adequately meet our problems of international com- petitior~ in trade or defense if we leave it to the priorities of every local school district. Furthe~ore, in the United States the present culture of schools, teachers, and school boards in the precollege educational system is not well suited to facing the economic marketplace and paying what is necessary to get good teachers in mathematics and science. The situation has become more com- plicated because outstanding young women who in previous years would automatically have gone into teaching are now able to pursue attractive professional careers in engineering or management. Again, there is the question of the number of ~ngineenng graduates that we really need. One measure, of course, is the number of engineenug jobs to be filled in industry. Even this is not well defined and is hard to predict very far into the future. As mentioned before, U.S. industry and our total society utilize fewer engineering graduates than does Japan, where there are twice as many engineering graduates per capita, and where the percentage of bachelor's graduates majoring in engineering is several times higher than in the United States. There is currently a force in the United States opposing any change, a small but strident group in the engineering profession who say that we should not increase the number of engineering graduates, that an increase in supply would merely drive salaries down. This group would rather have us reduce the number of graduates and restrict the immigration of foreign engineering graduates. I think this would not serve our nation well. In fact, I would urge a much greater increase in the number of students studying engineering, regardless of whether or not they later serve in strictly engineering positions. This brings us to a consideration of our high-tech society of the future. There is a large society of users of technology, as well as the smaller group of decision makers, who should steer us along a course where technology could be a positive factor in the quality of life and in world stability. Not enough of these decision makers in government and industry have had en- gineering or scientific education. I would urge that we need many more engineering graduates, and in many kinds of positions in society, not merely in jobs labeled "engineering." I would urge a broader view of engineering education. The engineering curriculum is not narrow and only technical, though the content of humanities and social sciences might well be increased even at the expense of providing less of a ready-made engineering specialist at the bachelor's level. There is the important group of innovators, or the creators of our future
262 JOSEPH M. PE-lTIT technology. These include the engineenug specialists in high-tech industry. For them, furler advanced study is necessary. We must encourage more of our brightest engineers to go beyond the bachelor's degree, to acquire or sharpen the tools necessary for high-level innovation. Many of them can do this while employed in industry, taking advantage of local universities or video delivery systems. Corporate policy must do better to encourage this activity by young engineers. I would urge again that we not measure the number of engineers needed for the future by a precise counting of the number of jobs labeled "eng~- neenng." This is not done in over fields. Many students take undergraduate majors in subjects like economics or chemistry but do not become career specialists in those fields. Yet somehow we seem to have come to advise young people to go or not to go into engineering based only on predictions of the number of engineering jobs. I think we need many more people in our society who have had an ana- lytical, rigorous cumculum preferably in We application of science to so- ciety, which typifies the best of engineering education. In conclusion, I would say that we face a future with more pervasive, more complex technology, with tools quite beyond the capacity of the user to comprehend in detail, let alone to make for himself. Yet, decisions must be made every day in industry and government, nationally and worldwide, In which technology is a big factor. We will make better decisions in the nventy-f~rst century if more of our citizens, managers, school board members, lawmakers and their economic advisers- have a sound understanding of a technological society and have experienced We rigorous analytical thought processes that it demands. Only in this way can we hope to achieve what Alfred Now Whitehead described as "~e art of progress," namely, "to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order."
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