EDUCATING THE ENGINEER OF 2020
ADAPTING ENGINEERING EDUCATION TO THE NEW CENTURY
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, DC www.nap.edu
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NOTICE: To arrive at the findings and recommendations of this report, the National Academy of Engineering has used a process that involves careful selection of a balanced and knowledgeable committee, assembly of relevant information, and peer review of the resultant report. Over time, this process has proven to produce authoritative and balanced results.
This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0242173, with contributions from the Hewlett Packard Company, the General Electric Foundation, and the National Academy of Engineering Fund. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsoring organizations.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Educating the engineer of 2020 : adapting engineering education to the new century / National Academy of Engineering of the National Academies.
ISBN 0-309-09649-9 (pbk.)—ISBN 0-309-55006-8 (pdf) 1. Engineering—Study and teaching (Higher)—United States. I. National Academy of Engineering.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
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About the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) was established in 1950 by the Congress and is the only federal agency dedicated to supporting education and fundamental research in all science and engineering disciplines. The mission of NSF is to ensure that the United States maintains leadership in scientific discovery and the development of new technologies. NSF promotes the progress of engineering in the United States in order to enable the nation’s capacity for innovation and to support the creation of wealth and a better quality of life.
About the Hewlett-Packard Company
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About the General Electric Foundation
The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of the General Electric Company, works to strengthen educational access, equity, and quality for disadvantaged youth globally; and supports GE employee and retiree giving and involvement in GE communities around the world. In 2004, the GE Family contributed more than $150 million to community and educational programs, including $52 million from the GE Foundation. For information, visit www.gefoundation.com.
COMMITTEE ON THE ENGINEER OF 2020, PHASE II
G. WAYNE CLOUGH (NAE), Chair,
Georgia Institute of Technology
ALICE M. AGOGINO (NAE),
University of California, Berkeley
MARK DEAN (NAE),
SHERRA E. KERNS,
University of Texas, El Paso
SIMON OSTRACH (NAE),
Case Western Reserve University
ERNEST T. SMERDON (NAE),
University of Arizona
KARAN L. WATSON,
Texas A&M University
DAVID WISLER (NAE),
GE Aircraft Engines
EX OFFICIO MEMBER
STEPHEN W. DIRECTOR (NAE), Drexel University
NAE PROGRAM OFFICE STAFF
RICHARD TABER, Project Officer
LANCE DAVIS (NAE), Executive Officer
NORMAN FORTENBERRY, Director,
Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education
NATHAN KAHL, Project Assistant
PROCTOR REID, Director, Program Office
COMMITTEE ON ENGINEERING EDUCATION
STEPHEN W. DIRECTOR (NAE), Chair,
JOHN R. BIRGE,
University of Chicago
ANJAN BOSE (NAE),
Washington State University
Harvey Mudd College
BARRY C. BUCKLAND (NAE),
Merck Research Laboratories
MICHAEL CORRADINI (NAE),
University of Wisconsin, Madison
JENNIFER SINCLAIR CURTIS,
University of Florida
JAMES W. DALLY (NAE),
University of Maryland
RUTH A. DAVID (NAE),
ANN Q. GATES,
University of Texas, El Paso
JAMES H. JOHNSON,
LARRY V. McINTIRE (NAE),
Georgia Institute of Technology
LINDA PETZOLD (NAE),
University of California, Santa Barbara
ESTHER TAKEUCHI (NAE),
Wilson Greatbatch Technologies, Inc.
EX OFFICIO MEMBERS
CRAIG R. BARRETT (NAE), Chairman,
National Academy of Engineering
RALPH J. CICERONE (NAS), President,
National Academy of Sciences
HARVEY V. FINEBERG (IOM), President,
Institute of Medicine
SHEILA E. WIDNALL (NAE), Vice President,
National Academy of Engineering
WM. A. WULF (NAE), President,
National Academy of Engineering
This report was reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the authoring committee and the National Academy of Engineering in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the charge for this activity. The contents of the review comments and draft manuscripts remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.
ELEANOR BAUM, The Cooper Union
JAY BROCKMAN, University of Notre Dame
PAUL CITRON, Medtronic, Incorporated
CANDIS CLAIBORN, Washington State University
DELORES ETTER, United States Naval Academy
MARIO GONZALEZ, University of Texas, Austin
FRANK HUGHES, Boeing Corporation (retired)
MARSHALL JONES, General Electric Company
GRANGER MORGAN, Carnegie Mellon University
WARREN SEERING, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
THOMAS SKALAK, University of Virginia
REPORT REVIEW MONITOR
ROBERT F. SPROULL, Sun Microsystems, Incorporated
The Engineer of 2020 Project centers on an effort to envision the future two decades from now, to use this knowledge in an attempt to predict the roles engineers will play in the future, and to position engineering education in the United States for what lies ahead, rather than waiting for time to pass and then trying to respond. It is driven by concern that engineering students of today may not be appropriately educated to meet the demands that will be placed on the engineer of 2020 and that, without refocusing and reshaping the undergraduate engineering learning experience, America’s engineering preeminence could be lost. It takes as a given that the nation’s societal goals will not be met absent a robust engineering community in the country. It asks what restructuring of program, reallocation of resources, and refocusing of faculty and professional society time and energy are required so that our educational infrastructure can educate engineers prepared to tackle the challenges of the future. It questions how we can more effectively share with students—current and potential—our passion for designing systems, structures, and devices to solve problems and our conviction that engineering is a profession that offers rich rewards for serving the interests of society.
In addressing a Summit on Engineering Education held in conjunction with this project in July 2004, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Charles Vest encouraged the assembled educators and stakeholders to think about the students when considering how the engineering education system should be reengineered by stating, “This is the most
exciting period in human history for science and engineering. The explosive advances in knowledge, instrumentation, communication, and computational capabilities create a mind-boggling playing field for the next generation…. As we think about the plethora of challenges, it is important, in my view, to remember that students are driven by passion, curiosity, engagement, and dreams…. Despite our best efforts to plan their education, to a large extent we simply help to wind them up, and then step back to watch the amazing results.” Gretchen Kalonji, professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Washington, expanded on Vest’s desire to engage the passion and curiosity of students stating that “[a]s we move forward, I think we need to undertake a far more bold reformulation of engineering education. Bluntly speaking, with existing models, we are losing the battle for the imagination of our youth…. What I would argue for is a dramatic and fundamental transformation of the educational process.”
Originated and chartered by the Committee on Engineering Education of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the Engineer of 2020 Project consists of two parts, the first related to the development of a vision for engineering and the work of the engineer in 2020. A report of the first phase was published in the spring of 2004. The second part, the subject of this report, is to examine engineering education, in the broadest context, and ask what it needs to do to enrich the education of engineers who will practice in 2020. This initiative is not unique in that other groups have somewhat similar efforts under way or have recently completed them. The work of NAE differs in that it considers the issues with respect to all the diverse branches of engineering and examines them from the broadest possible perspective. Its principal focus is on the future of undergraduate engineering education in this country, although it is appreciated that to understand the full perspective, engineering practice and engineering education must be considered within a global context.
A Steering Committee for the Phase II project was established in February 2004 by the NAE president to guide the work. The committee met in July 2004, coincident with the Summit on Engineering Education, which was held at the National Academies’ Constitution Avenue location in Washington, D.C., attended by approximately 100 participants. As background information for the summit, a series of papers was prepared by education experts on a variety of subjects, including cooperative education, the National Science Foundation engineering education coalitions, the Olin College experience, diversity, the Greenfield Coalition, the Pedagogies of
the Professions Program of the Carnegie Foundation, accreditation systems, and the history of efforts to realign engineering education. These papers are included in Appendix A.
The Summit featured keynote addresses by Ruth David, Charles Vest (see Appendix B), Shirley Ann Jackson, and Nicholas Donofrio and, between the plenary sessions of the Summit, five breakout groups met to allow more detailed and interactive discussions on various aspects of the engineering education system. The Summit agenda is in Appendix C.
Immediately following the workshop, the Steering Committee met to review the workshop discussions and was assigned the task of preparing this report. Final review of the report by the Steering Committee to critique its conclusions and recommendations was conducted by e-mail.
It is notable that the Phase I report posits a statement of aspirations for the engineer of 2020 and closes with a statement of attributes thought suitable for the engineer of 2020 that match the aspirations. These aspirations and attributes express a bold optimism for the engineering profession if it is willing to confront the possibilities for the future and to prepare for them.
Ahead lies the challenge of debating and adopting, where appropriate, the recommendations of this report for adapting engineering education to the new century. The committee recognizes that “one size does not fit all” and has attempted to suggest a suite of interventions, not all of which will work in every institution. We expect that debate on these interventions will take place over the course of the coming year and we hope that their introduction into the engineering education infrastructure will rapidly follow so that today’s students will indeed be prepared to practice engineering effectively in 2020.
The Engineering Education Coalitions Program
Designing from a Blank Slate: The Development of the Initial Olin College Curriculum
The Global Engineer
The Importance of Economics
Educating Engineers for 2020 and Beyond