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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
trial technology, and technology education programs that include differing degrees of engineering content.
The varied implementation of technology education makes it difficult to clearly distinguish it from “engineering education” at the K–12 level. The distinctions are most apparent between the industrial arts model of technology education, with its emphasis on tool skills and fabrication of technological artifacts, and engineering education that focuses on the engineering design process as an approach to problem solving. Some analysts (McAlister, 2007) have pointed out that pre-service education for most technology teachers includes relatively few mathematics and science courses. Because engineering design, particularly modeling and analysis, relies on mathematics and science concepts, another emerging distinction between educators in technology and those in engineering may be their degree of preparation in science and mathematics.3
More broadly, there are indicators of growing interest in understanding and improving the connections between engineering and technology education. For example, the ITEA Council on Technology Teacher Education devoted an entire volume to the topic (CTTE, 2008); from 2004 to 2009, the National Science Foundation funded the nine-university National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (www.ncete.org), in part to grow these connections; and in 2004, the American Society for Engineering Education established a Division on K–12 and Pre-College Engineering, and some members of the division are from technology education.
The Demographics of Engineering Today
In 2006, the most recent year for which data are available, the United States had an engineering workforce of about 1.5 million people4 (BLS, 2008a). About 37 percent of engineering jobs were in manufacturing industries, and 28 percent were in the professional, scientific, and technical services sector, primarily architectural, engineering, and related services. Many engineers also worked in the construction, telecommunications, and wholesale trades. In addition, federal, state, and local governments employed about 12 percent of engineers.
The importance of mathematics and science to engineering design is discussed at length in Chapter 4.
This number does not include roughly 27,000 engineering teaching personnel who are employed by engineering schools (ASEE, 2007a, p. 28).