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Editor’s note: ASEE President Sarah Rajala described ASEE’s international activities in the February 2009 Prism, prompting the following letter and the president’s reply.

As the current president and four immediate past presidents of the International Association for Continuing Engineering Education (IACEE), we think it is both timely and excellent that in the February issue of Prism you should draw the attention of readers to ASEE’s international activities.

However, we are writing to express our deep concern over what we consider to be a rather unfortunate oversight. You have made absolutely no mention of IACEE, or of its international activities, or of the fact that its headquarters is housed in ASEE Headquarters in Washington, or that it counts many ASEE members among its valued founders and contributors. IACEE appears to have been overlooked, and we feel that an unfortunate disservice has been done to its activities and an opportunity missed in informing Prism readers of the full diversity of international activities.

IACEE is a global organization, having a global representation, including many ASEE members. Some have already written to us, puzzled as to why no mention was made of IACEE in your article! As you are aware, the focus of ASEE/IFEES is on the initial engineering education of individuals prior to employment, while IACEE’s focus is on the lifelong education of engineers after graduation. With declining populations of students choosing to study engineering, both in the United States and other parts of the world, there are significant concerns about the continued competence of the engineering workforce.

Continuing education/professional development has an important and expanding role to play in helping to overcome this. IACEE furthers and supports interests and efforts associated with Continuing Engineering Education (CEE). For example, currently it is addressing major quality issues in CEE.
IACEE members have a long history of being present at the ASEE Conference for Industry & Education Collaboration meeting, held annually in the U.S. in mid-winter, and on many occasions have organized a half-day workshop or other activity at this meeting. This has been appreciated by ASEE members present. These IACEE activities long pre-date the formation of IFEES, with IACEE being both one of the IFEES founding organizations and represented on the IFEES Executive Committee. IACEE will celebrate its 20th anniversary this May in Beijing, the location of the founding of IACEE at the Fourth World Conference on Continuing Engineering Education.

Flemming K. Fink, IACEE President (2008–2010)
Mervyn E. Jones, IACEE President (2004–2008)
Alfredo A. V. Soeiro, IACEE President (2001–2004)
Frank E. Burris, IACEE President (1998–2001)
John P. Klus, IACEE President (1989–1995)

Sarah Rajala replies:

I chose to focus my February letter (one of three each year that the president writes) on ASEE’s role in international activities. Given the word limit imposed on these letters, I knew it was not likely that I would be able to present all of the international activities in which ASEE is currently involved.  I chose to discuss those activities in which I have had the opportunity to participate this year. I did not intend to slight the IACEE or any of the other international activities not mentioned in the letter.

Because of the growing interest and participation in international activities, along with their financial impact, ASEE’s Board of Directors established the Strategic Planning Task Force to develop a plan to guide our decision-making in the future. It is hoped that the task force will present a draft of their plan to the Board of Directors in June. This will provide us with an excellent opportunity not only to share the plan, but to identify the broad range of international activities in which ASEE is involved.

Tulane Seized an Opportunity

I very much enjoyed reading Mary Lord’s article “When Disaster Strikes” in the November issue of Prism. However, I feel that her brief account of the post-Katrina reorganization at Tulane does not accurately portray the state of engineering education at our university. Tulane offers very strong degree programs in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Engineering Physics. These are housed in the Biological, Chemical, and Physical divisions, respectively, of the School of Science and Engineering in partnership with complementary science programs. The other three divisions of the School of Science and Engineering (Behavioral, Earth and Ecological, and Mathematical) currently house only science programs but are in the process of developing complementary programs in engineering and computer science, as well. In addition, we offer an undergraduate minor in Engineering Science for non-engineering majors. 

The School of Science and Engineering is second only to the School of Liberal Arts in undergraduate enrollment with nearly 30 percent of Tulane’s undergraduate students enrolled in our degree programs. It also boasts the largest doctoral enrollment at the university and is third in external research funding behind only the School of Medicine and the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. While it is true that financial considerations necessitated changes at Tulane following Hurricane Katrina, I believe that our university has also seized an opportunity to pioneer a new model for integrated science and engineering education and research.

Nicholas J. Altiero
Dean, School of Science and Engineering
Tulane University

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