ASEE PRISM - Feb 2001
Comments
Preparing Tomorrow's Engineers

 TFrank L. Hubandhis month's Prism is devoted to precollege education, a topic that is also the focus of this year's Engineering Deans' Public Policy Forum in Washington, D.C. In both this issue and the Deans' Forum, there are examples of the efforts of engineering colleges, their faculty, and students to make science and math more interesting and exciting to K-12 students--and their teachers.

Why all this attention? One obvious reason is the need to ensure that high-school graduates arriving as engineering freshmen are fully prepared in mathematics, physics, and other subjects so that upon graduation, they are equipped to be successful engineers. Another is the need to make precollege students (and their teachers and counselors) aware of the role that engineering and engineers play in our economy.

Few K-12 students, or their teachers, fully understand the difference between science and engineering, or the benefits and challenges of an engineering degree and career. Without that understanding, by the time a student reaches high school, it might be too late for even the best students to take the science and mathematics needed to enroll in engineering. And unless we can attract and retain such high-potential students, our high-technology economy will not reach its full potential.

Engineering colleges are in a strong position to inform precollege students and their teachers what it is like to be an engineer. In "Building Tomorrow's Workforce" , there are examples of how engineering students and faculty are improving young people's understanding of our technological society--and making them aware of how engineers contribute to that society.

I would like to see other engineering schools build on these and other successful models to reach an ever-growing fraction of our young people. In addition, perhaps we could join together with the physics, mathematics, and other science teachers associations to give teachers without these backgrounds a better understanding of the contributions that scientists and engineers make to our society.

What do you think? As usual, I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher
f.huband@asee.org