8
Conclusions and Recommendations

CONCLUSIONS

Although the U.S. and Japanese systems for educating engineers are quite different, they share a number of common challenges. These include:

  • Attracting talented young people to engineering careers,

  • Developing educational systems that ensure a firm grasp of fundamentals while promoting creativity and a spirit of inquiry,

  • Maintaining the skill base of the engineering work force by providing access to learning opportunities throughout the working life of engineers,

  • Developing new approaches to engineering education that make the best use of the Internet and other information technologies,

  • Ensuring that educational systems provide the two countries with sufficient capability for global engineering by transmitting to engineers the skills and experience needed to perform effectively in international collaboration.

Each country also has specific challenges. For the United States, the highest priority tasks are:

  • Improve the quality and consistency of K-12 science and mathematics education for all students, including future engineers.

  • Ensure that graduate engineering education maintains a strong link with research, while taking into account the growing career opportunities for doctoral engineers outside of academia and research.

  • Build systems that facilitate increased investment in continuing education for engineers in an era of growing job mobility. For Japan, the highest priority tasks are:

  • Improve the university entrance process in order to promote creative learning in mathematics and science while maintaining high standards.

  • Improve undergraduate engineering education so that students receive a more intensive and fulfilling educational experience.

  • Increase the number of students who receive graduate training in engineering at universities, and link graduate education more effectively with fundamental research.



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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives 8 Conclusions and Recommendations CONCLUSIONS Although the U.S. and Japanese systems for educating engineers are quite different, they share a number of common challenges. These include: Attracting talented young people to engineering careers, Developing educational systems that ensure a firm grasp of fundamentals while promoting creativity and a spirit of inquiry, Maintaining the skill base of the engineering work force by providing access to learning opportunities throughout the working life of engineers, Developing new approaches to engineering education that make the best use of the Internet and other information technologies, Ensuring that educational systems provide the two countries with sufficient capability for global engineering by transmitting to engineers the skills and experience needed to perform effectively in international collaboration. Each country also has specific challenges. For the United States, the highest priority tasks are: Improve the quality and consistency of K-12 science and mathematics education for all students, including future engineers. Ensure that graduate engineering education maintains a strong link with research, while taking into account the growing career opportunities for doctoral engineers outside of academia and research. Build systems that facilitate increased investment in continuing education for engineers in an era of growing job mobility. For Japan, the highest priority tasks are: Improve the university entrance process in order to promote creative learning in mathematics and science while maintaining high standards. Improve undergraduate engineering education so that students receive a more intensive and fulfilling educational experience. Increase the number of students who receive graduate training in engineering at universities, and link graduate education more effectively with fundamental research.

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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives RECOMMENDATIONS By the Japanese Working Group (for Japan) The Ministry of Education, Science, Sports, and Culture (Monbusho) along with Japanese schools, teachers, and parents, should redouble efforts to expand computer education and computer literacy for K-12 students. Universities should also aggressively utilize information technologies to disseminate admissions and other information to potential applicants. Public and private universities, working with the Monbusho and the National Center for University Entrance Examinations, should continue efforts to simplify and improve the university entrance system with the goal of lessening negative impacts on K-12 education and promoting a richer undergraduate experience. Japanese industry, universities, and government should promote expanded industry-university cooperation in engineering education through visiting lecture programs for corporate visitors at universities, internship programs for students at companies, continuing education initiatives, and training aimed at building Japan's global engineering skill base. Japan should redouble efforts to improve graduate engineering education and research. In particular, the Monbusho and other research funding agencies should expand competitive funding of research. Japanese universities and Monbusho should enhance the breadth of the Ph.D. degree in engineering by requiring recipients, particularly those taking the thesis dissertation route, to achieve broad mastery of the field in addition to original research achievement through the Ph.D. thesis. Japanese universities should diversify their criteria for admissions, with the goal of encouraging industry to diversify the skill and experience profiles of new hires. By the U.S. Working Group (for the United States) U.S. school systems, teachers, and parents should continue to learn from international models, including Japan, in improving K-12 mathematics and science education. The United States, perhaps through the National Science Foundation, should increase opportunities for U.S. engineering students and younger professionals to gain international skills and expertise through language study, year abroad programs, research exchanges, and overseas internships. The United States should make renewed public-private efforts to encourage increased investments in continuing education for engineers. Information technology can provide an important and effective tool. The impact of the shifting funding trends for science and engineering students and for research should be examined. The implications of the majority of engineering doctorates awarded to foreign citizens should be examined and better understood. There should be a wider effort to educate engineering students, especially at top-tier research universities, about nonacademic and nonresearch career options.

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Engineering Education Tasks for the New Century: Japanese and U.S. Perspectives By the Joint Task Force (for both Japan and the United States) Japan and the United States should lead international initiatives to improve engineering education exchanges and develop the capabilities necessary for nurturing “global engineers.” Possible specific tasks are listed at the end of Chapter 6. The engineering communities of the United States and Japan should maintain and increase their own bilateral engineering exchange and training activities, and seek out opportunities for expanded cooperation with engineers in other countries. The Japanese and U.S. engineering communities should continue to explore the potential for information technology to transform engineering education, and develop mechanisms to regularly share perspectives and insights. Japan and the United States should move toward harmonizing standards for engineering students so that the skills of engineers in both countries allow them to more effectively work together in the global context.

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