Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Panel on ASME Vision 2030 Task Force Future of Engineering Education

Robert Warrington, Michigan Tech. & ASME Center for Education
Future of mechanical engineering and building on Grand Challenges and Opportunities – 21st Century Needs. 3 Phases, they are in phase 1 now. Goal: Develop case for change

Survey and personal interviews with mechanical engineering department heads and industry professional at a management level to match between education and industry in the United States.

Jim Plummer at Stanford wants kids who have “wider world view.” We need to attract them to the engineering profession. Students are creative and inventive but not innovative, which takes leadership. – Dan Mote at U of Maryland

A few resources (& there are many more from NEA, etc to build upon)

• Millennium-project.org grand challenges.

• Sustainable future institute

• Engineering workforce has failed in certain areas

Case for Change

• Increase expertise & communication, leadership skills

• New knowledge blurring disciplinary boundaries

Survey/Interview Findings so Far

At entry-level identified areas of weakness. Work is needed in communication, practical experience (how devices are made/work) for instance. Product creation 34% in industry feel skills are weak in this area. They can compare industry and department head responses which seem to vary widely.

Post BMSE coursework, is it needed? The majority of industry and department heads feel this type of post bachelor of science education is needed. When looking at years of formal education, ASCE looked at years of formal education for various professional degrees. Is an another 30+ semester hours needed? Only 20% of mechanical engineers feel this is necessary. 45% of academic ME departments heads feel this additional coursework is needed.

Making Room in the Curriculum for Leadership, entrepreneurship, active & discovery based learning.

Seering study at MIT looked at 30 year old graduates and found half the material they learned used, half forgotten. High frequency use showed up for higher order thinking skills such as independent thinking, communication, teamwork, personal skills and attributes, professional skills and practice. Beyond the university, where are the 30 years learning what they need to know: grad school, on-the-job, and self-directed learning. MIT is developing a more flexible curriculum that has more professional skills embedded into their curriculum to produce leaders of the future.

Faculty availability (time) was high on this list of barriers to change. Options being formulated include the possibility of a 5 year professional degree beyond the BS. The task force is still working on developing recommendations but integration professional skills throughout the curriculum and grand challenges in the design spine seem obvious from the results thus far.
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