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
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