During the Cold War era, substantial federal funding for defense-related projects set the tone for U.S. engineering. The goals and day-to-day responsibilities of the legions of engineers working on these projects tended to be commensurately narrow: to produce the fastest, strongest, and most effective tools for national defense.
Today, the world and engineering employment have changed dramatically, and that Cold War model no longer applies. Engineers now have a much broader role in society and as such need to be concerned with law, ethics, and many other areas beyond the traditional technical fundamentals.
Engineering has traditionally been the most intense curriculum, both for educators and for students. Now, with so much more to teach in the same amount of time, many engineering educators—particularly those from my generation, who grew up without cable television or programmable calculators—must struggle with the issue of whether their traditional teaching methods are adequate. There is also a growing awareness of and support for matching teaching approaches to students' learning styles, and the related feeling that in teaching, showing is at least as important as telling.
Two articles in this month's PRISM address very different ways that living in the Information Age is affecting engineering education. "Grab Their Attention with Multimedia" showcases the coming technology revolution in teaching, with educators harnessing the power of computers and the Internet to make learning more effective and more fun.
The explosion of technology in our society has also fueled a darker side of the education enterprise. Our cover story, "Student Plagiarism in an Online World," highlights this growing problem while offering simple yet high-tech tips and tricks for catching the new breed of student cheats in the act.
The changes being wrought by information technology are irreversible. Whether you are a Baby Boomer or an Generation Xer, a techno-whiz or a technophobe, ASEE is looking for ways to help you ride the technology wave and keep engineering education marching forward.
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Frank L. Huband