The Globalization of Engineering

By Jones, Russel C.; Butcher, William S. et al. | ASEE Prism, Summer 2005 | Go to article overview

The Globalization of Engineering


Jones, Russel C., Butcher, William S., Prey, Jane Chu, ASEE Prism


In a continuing effort to connect the international engineering education community, the American Society for Engineering Education, along with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, held the third annual International Colloquium on Engineering Education in September. Hosted by Tsinghua University in Beijing, the conference offered educators and researchers an opportunity to meet with more than 300 colleagues from around the world and explore different facets of engineering education, as well as share their own research. Speakers from more than 10 countries presented papers on three main topic areas: continuing education and its delivery, engineering education reform, and international recognition of qualifications. The following is a summary of the proceedings.

Continuing Education And its Delivery

INDUSTRY WANTS engineering graduates who are well prepared in the fundamentals at graduation and who will continue their education throughout their careers. Customers - engineers and their employers-are defining the content and format of the continuing education they will buy. Successful continuing education offerings need to satisfy the immediate needs of industry, as well as the longerterm career needs of the engineers.

Continuing education broadens the knowledge of engineers beyond initial technical education to issues such as the environment, ethics, societal needs, and international issues. Engineers engaging in continuing education want a choice of synchronous, asynchronous, or blended-education offerings. They want access to a wide range of online degrees, certificates, and credcntialing options. Engineers also want customized learning experiences, tailored to their current needs. They want a networked learning community and a team environment in which to learn.

Engineers in developing countries need to become up-to-date and learn about existing technical areas and newly developing technical fields. State-of-the-art knowledge is needed in order to enhance the competitiveness of their countries in the global marketplace. Today, continuing education courses for engineers often stress a combination of technical content and broader education-teamwork, international, soft skills, and management skills.

Continuing education is important for licensing, also. A license to practice engineering generally requires an initial accredited degree, testing, a period of experience, and then continued professional competency through lifelong learning. Some licensing jurisdictions now have mandatory continuing education requirements.

The technology for delivery of continuing education courses has generally moved from satellite to Internet delivery. Online laboratory experiences are being developed, utilizing virtual experiments. And while formal accreditation generally does not apply to continuing education programs, some groups, such as corporations, professional societies, and testing services do evaluate continuing education offerings. Measuring the results of lifelong learning programs should include assessments of the level of improved understanding, student engagement, faculty efficiency, and access to faculty members.

Continuing education providers are taking innovative approaches, such as offering chat rooms for networked learning, instructional associates to answer questions, and E-learning systems to make their offerings more attractive and effective. Looking ahead, continuing education providers need to move from one-way lectures to active learning. And initial college education needs to teach students how to learn throughout their professional careers.

International Recognition Of Qualifications

INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION of qualifications, which is essential to increasing the mobility of engineers between countries, is of concern to many, and many aspects of it remain to be settled. With increasing globalization, the need for mobility is increasing. …

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