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Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century
the marketplace and in the social and economic infrastructure. Many of the most hi-tech companies have been spun off from university research. The end of the Cold War and the shift from defense work has put pressure on university research to accept funding from industry for shorter term product- or process-oriented research. Meanwhile, industry has decreased its own in-house fundamental engineering research, making it even more important that universities conduct advanced basic research. Thus, this is a part of the engineering education infrastructure that must be preserved, but, at the same time, it must not lead to the neglect of the undergraduate engineering education experience. Indeed, if domestic engineering students are energized by their undergraduate education experience, it will enhance the possibility that they will be retained and graduate as engineers and aspire to advanced degrees through the academic engineering research enterprise.
In response to the issues facing undergraduate engineering education, the committee presents a suite of recommendations in this report, including the following:
The B.S. degree should be considered as a preengineering or “engineer in training” degree.
Engineering programs should be accredited at both the B.S. and M.S. levels, so that the M.S. degree can be recognized as the engineering “professional” degree.
Institutions should take advantage of the flexibility inherent in the EC2000 accreditation criteria of ABET, Incorporated (previously known as the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) in developing curricula, and students should be introduced to the “essence” of engineering early in their undergraduate careers.
Colleges and universities should endorse research in engineering education as a valued and rewarded activity for engineering faculty and should develop new standards for faculty qualifications.
In addition to producing engineers who have been taught the advances in core knowledge and are capable of defining and solving problems in the short term, institutions must teach students how to be lifelong learners.
Engineering educators should introduce interdisciplinary learn-