Globalization in Engineering Education and Practice

Manila Bulletin, October 9, 2005 | Go to article overview
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Globalization in Engineering Education and Practice

Byline: Reynaldo B. Vea, Ph.D. resident, Mapua Institute of Technology

ONE manifestation of globalization in the engineering community is the growing acceptance of international standards in engineering education. Concretely, these standards are codified in country-specific school accreditation systems. Some groups of countries have agreed that their accreditation systems are equivalent. In effect, they have also agreed that the engineering programs accredited under their respective systems are substantially equivalent in content and total education experience to one another. Thus units taken by a student in a school in one country may be credited in a school in another country. Thus, too, graduates of a school in one country would be deemed to have the entry-level qualifications for professional practice in another country. These agreements are termed "mutual recognition agreements." Examples of these are the Bologna Declaration of 1999, the Washington Accord, the Western Hemisphere Partnership and the Sydney Accord of 2001.

Of special interest to the Philippines is the Washington Accord which counts among its members the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong. Singapore, Malaysia, Japan, and Germany are now provisional members. Thailand is mounting an effort for membership. This accord is of interest because if our neighbors gain full membership then the graduates of their engineering schools would have a leg up on our graduates in terms of global recruitment and global practice.

These mutual recognition agreements in education establish a clear baseline of entry-level competencies for professional practice. In so doing they also facilitate the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in engineering practice across national boundaries.

In Europe, the Federacion Europeenne d'Associations Nationales d'Ingenieurs (FEANI) provides for the mutual recognition of engineering qualifications in 26 European countries through the conferment of the Eur Ing (or Euro Engineer) professional title. Similarly, other international registries of engineers have been established: The ASEAN Engineers Registry, the APEC Engineers Registry and the International Register of Engineers. For the Engineering Technician level there is the so-called Dublin Accord to govern international practice. The Philippines, through the Philippine Technological Council (PTC), the umbrella organization of technological professional societies, is active in both the ASEAN and APEC registries.

An engineer who is a member of a register can join overseas projects and practice his profession in any of the member countries of that registry without having to undertake further examination or interview. It has been projected that in the not-too-distant future the registries can be unified so that the title of "global engineer," or an equivalent, can be conferred. Indeed in the agenda of the 2004 Workshop of the International Engineers Meeting (IEM) was the strengthening of the cooperation among the various international registries.

With the rapid growth in the global trade in services, including the outsourcing and offshoring of engineering services, it behooves the Philippines to pay attention to the requirements of meaningful participation in this sector.

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