ASEE Prism Magazine
Can Distance Education Be Unlocked?
A New Era
Blazing an Entrpreneurial Trail
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Engineering from Afar

Frank HubandThis month's cover story, "Can Distance Education Be Unlocked?" looks at the triumphs and troubles facing undergraduate distance education programs in engineering. If you aspire to be an engineer, but have neither the time nor money to attend school full time, what can you do? Today, distance education can help, but it can take many years to earn an engineering degree. Furthermore, engineering undergraduate programs do not easily lend themselves to distance education, largely because of the laboratory requirements. This and other concerns have limited the number of schools offering programs at the undergraduate level (at the graduate level, there are numerous programs). Nevertheless, some engineering schools are taking the challenge, and a number of companies are interested and supportive.

One outcome everyone hopes will result from ABET's EC2000 is that engineering education will become more relevant to society. "A New Era" shows that an unexpected, but positive, byproduct of the new criteria may be that it is making engineering more appealing to women. EC2000 calls for students to work in multidisciplinary teams in areas such as bioengineering, and many women are interested in pursuing careers in which they feel they can help improve people's lives. While not everyone agrees that such a connection is demonstrable, most think that integrating gender equity into EC2000's objectives and outcomes can help improve the overall environment for women as engineering students.

The Enterprise Program at Michigan Technological University—profiled in "Blazing an Entrepreneurial Trail"—teaches students how to be entrepreneurs. These students have a choice of careers when they graduate. They can work for someone else or can start their own companies. The Enterprise program requires a three year commitment, during which students work in teams that operate like private companies. Students also work with established companies where they have opportunities to design new products that can be manufactured and marketed. The program taps their entrepreneurial spirit and gives them confidence to launch their own startups.

Prism continues to offer ASEE members a broad and interesting mix of stories. As always, I welcome your views and comments.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher