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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1884, and so forth. These societies had a strong influence on how the various fields of engineering were developed. They influenced education and training programs for engineers, and they developed standards for industry as well as ethical codes for their members (Reynolds, 1991). Professional societies also helped define new fields of engineering, as when mining engineers split from the ASCE in 1871 to form the American Institute of Mining Engineers and when industrial chemists broke away from the American Chemical Society in 1908 to form the American Institute of Chemical Engineering.
The professionalization of engineering continued through much of the twentieth century. One of the most important trends over the past 50 years has been the increasing emphasis on mathematics and science in the education of engineers. When the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite in 1957, the U.S. response included a national effort to increase the number of scientists and engineers coming through the educational pipeline and to emphasize the teaching of science and mathematics. As a result, engineering education began to put much more emphasis on theory and mathematics (Lucena, 2005).
Over the past quarter century, as the national focus has shifted from the perceived Soviet military threat to concerns about globalization and U.S. competitiveness in the world economy, the emphasis in engineering education has shifted again. Today, engineering schools no longer focus exclusively on science, mathematics, and engineering theory. They also emphasize flexibility and being able to respond quickly to emerging challenges (e.g., NAE, 2004). Expectations for engineering students are now likely to include the ability to work well in teams, to communicate ideas effectively, and to understand other cultures and the effects of technology on societies and individuals. In short, as technology has evolved from a collection of mostly isolated devices and structures to a tightly interconnected global system, engineers—as the designers of this technological world—have also evolved. Today, they must be competent in far more than the traditional science- and math-oriented subjects.
Engineering, Industrial Arts, and Technology Education
The advent of formal engineering education with its emphasis on theoretical mathematics and science was accompanied by a growing recognition that aspiring engineers also needed manual skills. As early as 1870, Calvin M. Woodward, dean of the engineering department at Washington Univer-