ASEE’s president exhorts members to act on lessons learned.
In my previous column, I outlined the 3Ns (numbers, needs and knowledge), which define the why, what and how of the changes needed in engineering education. ASEE has taken a number of steps to help address these 3Ns. I will describe only a few of them, as well as some proposed actions for this year.
ASEE is deeply concerned about pipeline issues, i.e., fewer students entering engineering fields, and has undertaken several activities to address them. ASEE’s K-12 & Pre-College Engineering division provides a focus for the development of innovative pre-college engineering curricula and delivery approaches, as well as a forum for presenting and sharing pre-college engineering educational initiatives and methods. The very popular magazine, Engineering, Go For It!, serves as a flagship product for spreading the word about the rewards of study and work in engineering. With the publication of a third edition this year, ASEE will exceed 1 million copies in circulation of all editions.
The annual ASEE Workshop on K-12 Engineering Education, held for the fourth time this year, continues to be very successful. To allow this effort to reach a broader audience, I am asking that each section/zone meeting during this coming year include an outreach effort to K-12 teachers and administrators modeled after this workshop. My expectation would be that each faculty member attending the section/zone meeting bring one or more K-12 teachers with him or her. This may require some support for travel expenses such as food and lodging from the engineering college. The faculty members and K-12 teachers would attend the K-12 workshop, as well as the usual ASEE conference. It is hoped that when everyone returns to “home base,” they will have a natural partnership to help expand the STEM pool.
In the past five years, ASEE has undertaken several major activities to enhance its global presence and expand opportunities for U.S. engineering faculty members to have meaningful international experiences that will translate to possible experiences for their students. Since 2002, ASEE has sponsored an annual global colloquium for engineering education. The goal of these colloquia is to bring together engineering educators from around the world to discuss common issues and innovative approaches to addressing them. Last year’s global colloquium in Brazil served as the platform for the inaugural meeting of the International Federation for Engineering Education Societies, whose mission is to serve as a global network committed to the improvement of its member societies and organizations and to leveraging their collective strengths for the betterment of engineering education worldwide. ASEE has also participated in an exciting new initiative–the Indo-U.S. Collaboration for Engineering Education.
It is my goal during this coming year to ask each of our international programs to identify ways in which they can improve international experiences for large numbers of engineering faculty and students. The ASEE Long Range Planning Committee will include this issue as a major topic of discussion this year.
During the 2006-2007 academic year, ASEE engaged in a Year of Dialogue at each section meeting. The goal of this dialogue was to engage the membership of ASEE in the task of defining what and how we should teach to produce engineers who will be leaders in the global community. A special emphasis of the discussions was the role of scholarship in teaching and learning in engineering education to help to define the best methods and practices for enhancing student learning.
ASEE will document this dialogue, take input from a variety of other sources, and create a challenge to fundamentally improve engineering education. The process will involve a four-stage, collaborative project involving various stakeholders in engineering education to identify, analyze and summarize existing knowledge and proven practices that contribute to effective engineering education. Funding has been received from the National Science Foundation for the initial effort to develop a draft report and for a two-day summit to ratify the concepts and build consensus around the report. The co-chairs for this effort have been selected: Leah Jamieson of Purdue University and Jack Lohmann of the Georgia Institute of Technology
However, no matter how good ASEE and its leadership are, no matter how many reports we prepare or programs we develop, to paraphrase Smoky the Bear, only YOU can make change happen at your institution. Insanity is, after all, doing the same things the same way and expecting different results. I urge every one of you to resolve to make changes that will make your engineering education programs better for your students. Change is never easy. As John Kenneth Galbraith noted, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.” Engineering faculty members are good with proofs, and it will be easy for you to find reasons why fundamental changes in engineering education cannot happen, but, we must take action now on what we know about improving engineering education.
James L. Melsa is president of ASEE and dean emeritus of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University.
The following zone and section meetings have been scheduled for 2008. These meetings are excellent opportunities to network with other engineering educators in your area and discover new ideas and techniques for engineering and technology education. All members are encouraged to attend. For updates and additional information, visit http://asee.org/activities/organizations/sections/meetings.cfm.
Corporate Member Council members DuPont and Northrop Grumman co-hosted the third annual Industry Fellows Forum (IFF) in Wilmington, DE., on October 10 and 11. The forum was initially convened by the National Academy of Engineers. Fellows are the acknowledged experts in a specific technology key to a particular company’s success. This year’s meeting drew more than 50 attendees from 17 companies nationwide. The focus was education, including in the STEM fields, with speakers from the NAE and National Science Foundation and a keynote by James L. Melsa, president of ASEE.
The Fellows were challenged to get more involved with engineering education, by, among other things, serving on university advisory boards and engaging with students, and were urged to consider becoming ABET evaluators. They were told that Fellows are understated role models who can be highly effective as guest speakers in the classroom, creating student excitement at both the K-12 and university levels. Most expressed an interest in education outreach activities. Details of the IFF, including presentations, are available on the website: http://industry.fellows.googlepages.com.
Seven faculty members at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been elected Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for 2007.
Fellows are elected for their “efforts toward advancing science applications that are deemed scientifically or socially distinguished,” according to the AAAS. The 471 new Fellows will be presented with a certificate and a gold (for science) and blue (for engineering) rosette pin on February 16 during the association’s annual meeting in Boston.
The MIT Fellows are: Emery N. Brown, professor of health sciences and technology and computational neuroscience. Brown was cited for “fundamental contributions to statistical modeling of dynamic biological phenomena, especially involving circadian rhythms, functional imaging signals and neuronal spike trains”; Professor Jeffrey P. Freidberg, associate dean of the Plasma Science and Fusion Center and professor of nuclear science and engineering, cited for “distinguished contributions to research and teaching in the areas of theoretical plasma physics and magnetohydrodynamics as applied to problems in magnetic fusion”; Klavs F. Jensen, head of the department of chemical engineering and professor of chemical engineering and materials science and engineering, for the “elegant use of detailed simulations of reactive systems to gain new insight into the underlying basic physical and chemical rate processes”; Daniel G. Nocera, professor of energy and professor of chemistry, for “distinguished contributions to the development of renewable energy at the molecular level, with emphasis on the splitting of water with solar light”; Leona D. Samson, professor of toxicology and biological engineering, for “distinguished contributions to cancer prevention and treatment, particularly for elucidating ways in which cells, tissues, and animals respond to carcinogenic and chemotherapeutic agents”; Joseph M. Sussman, professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering systems, for “contributions to understanding large, complex engineering systems with emphasis on transportation, freight and traveler systems, and for pioneering work in transportation systems education”; and Maria T. Zuber, head of the department of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences, and professor of geophysics and planetary science, for “outstanding research contributions and scientific leadership in the geophysical studies of Earth and the solid planets.”