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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives 4 Undergraduate and Graduate Education SUMMARY POINTS Engineering education at the university level has been a very important factor in building the technological capability of both Japan and the United States. A comparison of statistics and basic information shows important similarities and differences. Similarities include education costs and the general content of undergraduate education. Differences include more generous financial aid for students at the undergraduate and graduate levels in the United States, the larger relative size of Japan's undergraduate engineering enterprise, and Japan's dissertation (or “paper”1 ) doctorate system, which has no U.S. equivalent. One important difference is in accreditation, financing, and control. Japan's Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture performs all of these functions in Japan, although there has been movement in recent years to diversify funding for university research and advanced education with industry and foundations providing some support to Japanese researchers. In the United States, engineering education and research at universities is funded by a variety of federal agencies, states, and industry, while a private group, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, is responsible for accreditation. Undergraduate and graduate engineering education have been the subject of much discussion and a number of reform efforts in both countries. A common theme is ensuring that university training prepares students for the diverse challenges and opportunities that will face engineers in the twenty-first century. STATISTICS AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION Undergraduate Engineering Education Discussion and tables in Chapter 3 covered the range of institutions granting four-year degrees in each country. Almost three times as many U.S. institutions award general four-year degrees as Japanese institutions. There is a sharp contrast between Japan's fairly rigid hierarchy of national and private universities with the United States, which has a wider variety of institutions and only a rough hierarchy. Table 4-1 shows total enrollment and enrollment in engineering and natural science for the most recent years available in Japan and the United States. Figure 4-1 shows the trend in engineering and natural science degrees. In 1994, Japan awarded about a third more engineering degrees than the United States. It is necessary to consider both engineering and natural science degrees in U.S.-Japan comparisons, because several fields of applied science that are found in Japanese engineering schools, such as computer science, applied chemistry, and applied physics,
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives are considered natural science fields in the United States. Still, combined engineering and computer science degrees were slightly higher in Japan than the United States in 1994, meaning that Japan is awarding about twice as many degrees per capita in these fields. TABLE 4-1 Undergraduate Enrollment Japan (1996) United States (1995–1996) Total undergraduate enrollment 2,263,512 (100%) 7,791,000 (100%) Engineering and computer science 516,244 (23%) 696,000 (9%) SOURCES: Japan Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, and National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics 1997, 1998. Figure 4-1 Bachelor's degrees in natural sciences and engineering and computer sciences, 1975–1994. NOTE: Natural sciences include physical, biological, earth, atmospheric, and oceanographic sciences. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1997.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives Figure 4-2 illustrates an issue that the Japanese system will be facing in the coming years. Because of a decline in the birthrate since the 1970s, Japan's college-age population is shrinking. Entrance to engineering schools is very competitive, so the number of engineering degrees granted in Japan is unlikely to decline in the foreseeable future. Still, the Japanese working group and other experts have raised concerns about maintaining a high quality applicant pool for engineering schools. Table 4-2 shows the breakdown in disciplinary concentrations for first engineering degrees awarded in the United States and Japan in 1994. In most engineering fields, the percentages are roughly similar within a few percentage points. In the area of costs and financial aid for students, the two countries display some differences. According to statistics from the Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture (Monbusho), the tuition for national universities in 1995 was 447,600 yen, or $3,443 at 130 yen per dollar. During the freshman year, the student is charged an admission fee as well, which was 260,000 yen ($2,000) in 1995, bringing total tuition and fees, which is uniform for all national universities, to $5,443 for freshmen and $3,443 for the remaining years. The corresponding average figures for private universities in 1995 were 728,365 yen for tuition ($5,603), a freshman admission fee of 282,574 yen ($2,174), and a total cost to freshman of $7,777. Two decades ago, private school costs in Japan were much higher relative to national universities than they are today. Most of the costs of college education are borne by students and their families, with only about 11 percent of Japanese undergraduates receiving financial aid. In the United States data for the 1995–96 academic year shows that tuition and required fees averaged $2,179 for in-state students at public institutions.2 For private institutions, the average for tuition and required fees was $11,864.3 As for financial aid, during the 1995–96 school year 62.8 percent of full-time students at public institutions received aid, while 80.3 percent of full Figure 4-2 Population of 20-to 24-year-olds in Japan and the United States, 1980–2010. SOURCES: National Science Foundation, Human Resources for Science and Technology: The Asian Region, 1993 and U.S. Census Bureau.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives time undergraduate students at private institutions received aid. Financial aid in the United States is provided in the form of loans, grants, work-study or some combination. The average amount of financial aid received by all full-time U.S. students was $6,832 per year. A further contrast between the two systems is in retention. Table 4-3 shows that a very high proportion of Japanese students graduate in four years, including engineering students. In the United States, for students entering public four-year institutions in the fall of 1989, only 42 percent had received a degree by 1994, while 58 percent of the 1989 entrants to private universities had done so.4 The reasons for leaving school before receiving a degree in the United States are complex. Failure is only one contributing factor. Offers of attractive and high paying jobs is another, especially in computer-related areas. TABLE 4-2 First University Engineering Degrees Field of Study Japana United States Total 91,184 100 % 63,012 100 % Aeronautical/astronautical 776 0.9 2,330 3.7 Chemical 10,335 11.3 5,636 8.9 Civil 18,015 19.8 10,603 16.8 Electrical and computer 27,346 30.0 18,241 28.9 Industrial 4,757 5.2 3,453 5.6 Mechanical 18,664 20.5 15,297 24.3 Materials/metallurgy 1,125 1.2 1,106 1.8 Other 10,166 11.1 6,346 10.1 a Computer science is included within engineering departments in Japan. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, Science and Engineering Degrees 1966–1994 and Japan Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, Basic Education Survey, 1995, as compiled in National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1997. TABLE 4-3 University Retention in Japan All Fields Engineering Entrants to four-year institutions in 1990 492,340 97,317 Graduates in 1994 390,451 75,685 Percentage graduating in four years 79% 78% SOURCE: Japan Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives The enrollment of women in undergraduate engineering also shows a disparity between the two countries. Women and minorities are still underrepresented in U.S. undergraduate engineering enrollment, but steady increase is occurring. Female engineering enrollment was about 12 percent in 1979, and grew to 18 percent in 1994.5 Enrollment of underrepresented minorities in U.S. undergraduate engineering grew from about 8 percent in 1979 to 14 percent in 1994. In Japan, female enrollment in engineering was a little under 8,000 in 1996, about 12 percent of the total.6 Graduate Engineering Education Table 4-4 shows graduate education enrollment, enrollment in engineering, and enrollment in science and engineering for Japan and the United States. One obvious difference between the two countries is that graduate education is a much larger enterprise in the United States than it is in Japan. However, engineering constitutes a higher proportion of graduate enrollments in Japan than it does in the United States, so that per capita graduate engineering enrollments are roughly equal. Table 4-5 shows the number of foreign students enrolled in science and engineering graduate programs in the two countries. Although the collection methods are different and the data on foreign students are not directly comparable to the overall enrollment data, a rough comparison (Tables 4-4 and 4-5) shows that the United States has a much higher proportion of foreign students among those studying engineering. TABLE 4-4 Graduate Enrollment, 1994 Japan United States Total graduate enrollment 138,752 (100%) 1,734,371 (100%) Engineering 52,540 (38%) 113,865 (7%) Total science and engineering 91,181 (66%) 433,152 (25%) NOTE: Japanese engineering enrollment includes computer science. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1997. TABLE 4-5 Foreign Students Enrolled in Science and Engineering Graduate Programs, 1994 Japan United States Foreign students in science and engineering 10,127 96,475 Foreign students in engineering 4,749 44,114 SOURCE: National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1997.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives TABLE 4-6 Graduate Degrees, 1994 Japan United States Total Master's degrees 36,581 (100%) 389,008 (100%) Engineering Master's degrees 18,096 (49%) 28,717 (7%) Total Doctoral degrees 11,367 (100%) 41,011 (100%) Engineering doctoral degrees 2,501 (22%) 5,822 (14%) University-based engineering doctoral degrees 1,323 “Thesis” engineering doctoral degrees 1,178 NOTE: Japanese figures include computer science. SOURCE: National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1997. Table 4-6 shows the number of masters and doctoral degrees in engineering granted in the two countries in 1994. Engineering accounted for a large proportion of the masters degrees awarded in Japan. The table also shows the breakout in Japanese engineering degrees between university-based “course” doctorates and “thesis” doctorates earned for a dissertation prepared outside the university. The proportion of university-based doctorates had been lower than that of thesis doctorates until the early 1990s. On a per capita basis, the Japanese system grants the same number of doctoral degrees in engineering as the United States. In the financing of graduate engineering education, there have been fairly wide disparities between the United States and Japan. Although directly comparable data do not exist, support for graduate students has traditionally been much lower in Japan. About 26 percent of master's students and 59 percent of Japanese doctoral students receive “scholarships,” which are interest-free loans that need to be repaid after graduation.7 About 70 percent of U.S. science and engineering graduate students receive support through research and teaching assistantships, fellowships and traineeships. In 1993, 45,000 graduate students were supported primarily through fellowships and traineeships, and about 155,000 through research and teaching assistantships. The only form of support that must be repaid in the United States is loans. In recent years Japan has been increasing support for science and engineering graduate students through fellowships from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and other agencies. The announced goal is to increase the number of fellowships from 6,000 in 1996 to 10,000 by 2000. CONTENT Undergraduate Education It has been noted in Chapter 2 that Japanese engineering students enter universities with a more consistently thorough and advanced grasp of mathematics and science than their American counterparts. During the undergraduate years, it appears that a certain amount of catching up
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives takes place on the part of U.S. students. Although Japanese engineering students have a heavier work load than Japanese undergraduates in other disciplines, it is said that they do not work as hard as U.S. engineering students.8 Japanese courses tend to be more general and theoretical than U.S. courses, and are oriented toward lectures and supervised laboratories. Grading in U.S. engineering courses depends a great deal on take-home problem sets, which are virtually absent in Japan.9 Japanese grading relies heavily on written final examinations, which are also widely used in the United States. The content of the undergraduate curriculum does not differ a great deal between the two countries, with the first two years mainly focused on generalized coursework and the last two on more specialized subjects. One difference is the foreign language component for Japanese engineering students. Many public universities require study of English and a second foreign language, while most private universities require only one. U.S. engineering schools do not generally require language study, and indeed because of time constraints, it is very difficult in most U.S. universities for engineering students to study a foreign language while fulfilling other requirements. Graduate Education It is useful to distinguish between master's and doctoral training in engineering. For engineers not planning a career in research or university teaching, the master's degree is an appropriate terminal degree in both the United States and Japan. In both countries, the engineering master's course generally lasts for two years. In Japan, the engineering master's program consists mainly of coursework and seminars, with a thesis required to graduate. Most U.S. programs include research or laboratory work, and many require a thesis. Dual degree and interdisciplinary master's programs are common in the United States, as are programs that require or facilitate internships. These sorts of programs are rare in Japan. In Japan, university-based doctoral training consists of three years of research, presentations on the student's research results, and preparation of the dissertation, following completion of the master's course.10 Alternately, the dissertation (or “paper”) doctorate is earned by a working professional based on work completed outside the university. The candidate does not have university coursework requirements and is not registered as a formal doctoral student, but does have a dissertation advisor on the university faculty and his/her work is evaluated and approved by the academic department. In the United States, the typical Ph.D. program also focuses on a doctoral dissertation based on original research that may take two or more years to complete. The dissertation is expected to describe the student's research results, relevance of research to previous work, and significance in advancing understanding.11 The value of the dissertation is that it demonstrates the student's ability to conduct independent research. One common practice in science and engineering fields is for a doctoral candidate to work as a research assistant on the project of a faculty member, and to take one aspect of this work as a dissertation topic which is mainly independent work.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives ACCREDITATION AND CONTROL In the United States, undergraduate engineering education programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).12 ABET is a coalition of engineering societies, which has been granted exclusive jurisdiction by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit engineering education programs. Accreditation is a voluntary process aimed at ensuring that educational programs meet high quality standards and serve the long term needs of the engineering profession. ABET has developed criteria for accreditation, which are revised periodically. Engineering Criteria 2000, which will be phased in over the 1998–2001 timeframe, is intended to allow for more diversity of approach. Accreditation is implemented through the evaluation of programs by expert committees. In Japan, general as well as engineering curricula and certification of public and private universities is controlled by Monbusho. Monbusho also regulates student enrollments, department by department, for each university. One effect of the regulatory environment for education in Japan is that it is very difficult to start a new university. In addition to certifying universities, Monbusho makes periodic checks to see if quality is being maintained. Monbusho introduced changes in its certification practices in the early 1990s in order to allow for more flexibility in curriculum. ISSUES, CONCERNS, AND REFORM EFFORTS United States A number of groups and prominent individuals have examined U.S. undergraduate and graduate engineering education in recent years.13 The general sense of these reports is that although the current system and practices have performed well, undergraduate and graduate education will need to undertake major reforms in order to prepare engineers for a rapidly changing environment. The most important trend forcing change is the growing diversification of engineering career paths. Engineers are increasingly finding employment in nontraditional sectors. Even traditional employers of engineers are demanding capabilities and knowledge beyond technical skills, in areas such as communications ability, teamwork, capability for lifelong learning, and understanding of the business context of engineering work. These are also among the characteristics desirable for an engineering workforce that increasingly will be involved in international collaborations. The “global engineer” is discussed in more detail in Chapter 6. There is general agreement that engineering education needs to attract and retain greater numbers of students, increase the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities in the engineering workforce, facilitate acquisition by students of a broader range of skills, and forge deeper connections between universities, K-12 education, industry, professional societies, and other groups. Unlike the U.S. engineering education reforms of the 1950s, which were extensive and had the clear focus of strengthening the science base of engineering education, experts who are proposing change today do not propose an extensive set of reforms implemented from the top down.14 Instead, the stakeholders in the engineering education system are being urged to make evolutionary changes, many involving partnerships among various institutions.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives This general emphasis of reform efforts on creating new partnerships and coalitions reflects changes in engineering education that have occurred over the past 10–15 years. Significant program initiatives with this orientation include the Engineering Research Centers, launched in 1985, and the Engineering Education Coalitions, launched in 1990 and sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Finally, some have expressed concerns about trends in U.S. doctoral education in both science and engineering.15 First, the length of time from bachelor's to doctorate has increased in science and engineering fields, moving from 7.6 years in 1979–1980 to 9.1 years in 1994–1995. One view holds that the extra time results from students having to do more research on their professors' projects, reflecting a shift in student funding over the past two decades from fellowships to research assistantships. Some have questioned whether the extra time delivers sufficient educational benefit to the student. In response, a renewed effort to increase fellowship support has been recommended. 16 Second, the proportion of engineering doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens hovered at about 40 percent during the early 1990s, with the proportion of foreign citizens around 60 percent. Although the reasons for this are complex, and most experts recognize that foreign science and engineering talent has long made a significant contribution to U.S. capabilities, some would advocate efforts to raise the number and proportion of U.S. citizens among doctoral recipients. Third, employment of doctoral graduates in academia and industrial research declined in the early 1990s, although this has been a larger problem for some scientific fields than in engineering. Efforts to better educate students about non-academic and non-research career options are being pursued.17 Japan Japan also faces significant challenges in undergraduate and graduate engineering education, and a number of policy changes aimed at reform have been undertaken in recent years. In general, concerns expressed by Japanese experts about whether the education system can change quickly enough to meet the needs of a rapidly changing employment environment are similar to those expressed about the U.S. system. One recent study by the Engineering Academy of Japan (EAJ) identified three emerging mismatches: (1) a mismatch between the education demanded by employers and the education provided by engineering schools, (2) the mismatch between university curricula and high school curricula, and (3) the mismatch between academic and industrial value judgements. 18 The concern expressed in the EAJ report and the Japanese Working Group that increasing numbers of Japanese high school graduates are not well prepared for undergraduate engineering study was surprising to the U.S. Working Group. Much of the focus on educational reform in both science and engineering in Japan has been on graduate education.19 This focus is related to Japan's overall effort to improve its capability in fundamental research. Specific initiatives have included increased funding for university-based research as well as for graduate fellowships, as described above. Funding for university and other research facilities has also increased in recent years. The goals are to significantly increase the overall level of research and number of graduates, to facilitate more creative university-based research, and to link research more closely with education.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives Japan's reform efforts and policy changes are aimed at addressing several perceived problems in the system besides the simple lack of resources for university research and graduate education. Traditionally, research funding has been channeled from Monbusho to the universities through senior professors to their research groups, known as koza. This system has come under criticism because funding is not granted competitively, and because heavy reliance by junior faculty and graduate students on senior professors is seen as discouraging original approaches. The general Japanese practice, particularly at the national universities, of not hiring many faculty who have graduated from other universities is also believed to contribute to a lack of communication and cross-fertilization among academic researchers in Japan. New programs have attempted to address these issues. For example, new policies are aimed at increasing the flow of industry funds to universities. Since 1995 agencies other than Monbusho, including the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Science and Technology Agency (STA) have been allowed to support university research. Monbusho, MITI, and STA have all established new funding programs that are awarded competitively. Finally, the number of post-doctoral fellowships have been increased to allow more young Japanese scientists and engineers to gain research experiences outside their home institutions, including abroad. NOTES AND REFERENCES 1 See Graduate Education section later in the chapter for a description of this system. 2 National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 1997 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1997). If only four-year public institutions are included, the average rises to $2,848. The average total cost of four-year public institutions including room and board was $7,014. 3 Ibid. If only four-year institutions are included, the average rises to $12,243. The average total cost of four-year private institutions including room and board was $17,612. 4 National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics 1997, 1997. 5 National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators 1996 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996). 6 From Monbusho. 7 National Science Foundation, The Science and Technology Resources of Japan: A Comparison with the United States, 1997. 8 William F. Finan and Jeffrey Frey, The Effectiveness of the Japanese Research-Development Commercialization Cycle: Engineering and Technology Transfer in Japan's Semiconductor Industry, Semiconductor Research Corporation, August 1989. 9 D. Eleanor Westney and Kiyonori Sakakibara, Comparative Study of the Training, Careers, and Organization of Engineers in the Computer Industry in Japan and the United States, MIT Japan Program, 1985. 10 Tanya Sienko, A Comparison of Japanese and U.S. Graduate Programs in Science and Engineering (Tokyo: National Institute of Science and Technology Policy, 1997). 11 Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995). 12 Detailed information on ABET is available on the World Wide Web at http://www.abet.org. 13 For example, COSEPUP, op. cit.; National Research Council, Engineering Education: Designing an Adaptive System (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1995); American Society for Engineering Education, Engineering Education for a Changing World, 1994; and Joseph Bordogna, “Making Connections: The Role of Engineers and Engineering Education,” The Bridge, Spring 1997.
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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives 14 Edward W. Ernst, “Reform Efforts in the United States: Where have we been? Where are we going?” Paper delivered at the International Symposium on Engineering Education Reform and Evaluation, Osaka, November 1995. 15 COSEPUP, op. cit. 16 Ibid. 17 See the on-line Career Planning Center for Beginning Scientists and Engineers of the National Academies, at www2.nas.edu/cpc. 18 Engineering Academy of Japan, “Study on Engineering Education at EAJ,” English summary, May 24, 1997. 19 See Sienko, op. cit.
Representative terms from entire chapter: