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Our activities must meet members’ needs and be financially sustainable.

In my previous column, I outlined three initiatives that ASEE would focus attention on this year: diversity, engineering education for the global economy, and international activities. In this letter, I will describe in more detail ASEE’s role in international activities as well as proposed actions to maximize our impact and benefit to our membership.

During the fall, I had the opportunity to represent ASEE at meetings in India, Japan, South Africa, and South Korea. In each case, I learned about the role and status of engineering education in these countries and others in the region and shared ASEE’s vision for the future of engineering and engineering technology education. It is clear that ASEE is regarded as the international leader in engineering education. It is also clear we are not alone in our commitment and desire to advance the status of engineering as a profession, increase scholarly research in engineering education, and broaden participation in engineering. We have much to learn from our colleagues throughout the world and much to share about what we know.

ASEE has an international department whose responsibility it is to facilitate interconnectivity with stakeholders in engineering education throughout the world. Its primary focus is to implement the annual ASEE Global Colloquium, provide leadership and support for the development of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES), and strategically move U.S. engineering education into a globally oriented, culturally sensitive position. The International Division of ASEE is committed to promoting international understanding and to providing opportunities for members to exchange ideas. ASEE also has an International Advisory Committee, which provides policy oversight and advice to the ASEE Board of Directors.

The Global Colloquium provides a forum for members of ASEE and of the international engineering education community to share issues of interest and offers opportunities for attendees to learn more about the country and region in which the colloquium is held. In October 2008, ASEE hosted the Seventh Annual Global Colloquium in Cape Town, South Africa. Highlights included presentations on socio-political and economic issues; workshops on a wide variety of topics, including sustainable-development project collaboration; presentations by the South African deans; sessions on accreditation and licensure, problem-based learning, international collaboration, and the role of engineering education in securing a vibrant global economy; and visits to a number of the townships in Cape Town. The colloquium was deemed a great success by attendees from more than 50 countries.

ASEE serves as the general secretariat for IFEES and is one of the founding members of the organization. IFEES is a growing organization with a current membership of 48 societies throughout the world. IFEES’s mission is to work with its membership to establish engineering education processes to ensure a global supply of well-prepared engineering graduates. IFEES’s goals are to strengthen member organizations and their capacity to support faculty and students, to connect engineering graduates with international corporations that have a pressing need for well-trained engineers who can work in a global environment, and to enhance the ability of engineering faculty, students, and practitioners to understand the varied cultures of the world and work effectively in them. The president is Lueny Morell, a director at Hewlett Packard, and the past and founding president is Claudio Borri, professor at the University of Florence in Italy. IFEES held its second summit in Cape Town, South Africa, and the third will be held in St. Petersburg, Russia, in May 2009. One of the key milestones in 2008 was the establishment of the Global Engineering Deans Council, which will provide a mechanism for deans throughout the world to exchange information and experiences, enhance collaboration, support deans who play a leadership role in developing regional and national policies to advance economies, and participate in developing and maintaining a global system of quality standards for engineering education.

In 2007, ASEE, along with leaders from academia and industry, launched an effort to build U.S.-Indian collaboration with the goal of making engineering education and research more relevant to the needs of global society. Through the dedication and leadership of Dr. Krishna Vedula, dean emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the Indo/U.S. Collaboration for Engineering Education has been created, funding secured, and the 2008 Engineering Faculty Leadership Institute successfully implemented in Mysore, India, in June and July of 2008. Using a train-the-trainer model, 23 U.S. faculty conducted one-week workshops for 585 Indian participants, who were selected for their potential to be trainers in their own colleges and regions. Since July 2008, significant follow-up in the form of regional workshops has taken place, deans from a number of Indian universities have visited universities in the United States, and plans are underway for the 2009 Engineering Faculty Leadership Institute.

A new task force has been tapped to make the most of ASEE’s global leadership role.

ASEE has an important leadership role to play in the future of engineering education globally. It is also important as we move forward that we clearly articulate strategies for meeting the needs of our members and lay out a plan for financial sustainability. To accomplish these goals, the ASEE Board of Directors has approved the creation of a task force, under the leadership of Barbara Olds, professor at the Colorado School of Mines, and the International Advisory Committee, to create an International Strategic Plan. I encourage you to contribute to this process by submitting your ideas and recommendations to Dr. Olds or me. Together we will define a path forward that will maximize benefit to our members and ensure ASEE’s global leadership role.

Sarah A. Rajala is the president of ASEE and dean of the Bagley College of Engineering at Mississippi State.




Zone and section meetings provide 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 a full list of meetings and updates, visit




2009 ASEE K-12 WORKSHOPASEE’s sixth annual Workshop on K-12 Engineering Education will be held on Saturday, June 13 in Austin, Texas, one day before the opening of the annual conference. This daylong event is designed to introduce ASEE members and over 200 Austin-area teachers and engineering educators from across the country to innovative, effective engineering education resources designed for the K-12 classroom. The workshop will provide participants with hands-on opportunities through interactive workshop sessions to learn how to implement K-12 engineering education activities in the classroom.
Join us in Austin! For more information, including details on workshop registration, please visit




A group of engineering educators is calling on members of the profession and American universities to ensure that all engineering students develop the knowledge and skills needed to interact effectively with people from other nations and cultures.

The 19 educators, including engineering deans, urged that global education be integrated into the engineering curriculum and that funding agencies, foundations, and private industry make this effort a priority and support it financially. They issued their call in the form of a signed declaration following a two-day November meeting in Newport, R.I., encouraged and supported by a special grant from the National Science Foundation. John Grandin, director of the University of Rhode Island’s International Engineering Program, and E. Daniel Hirleman, head of the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, were cochairs of the meeting and are taking the lead in seeing that the declaration is implemented.

Here is a text of the statement:

The Newport Declaration To Globalize U.S. Engineering Education

WHEREAS the world is experiencing dramatic geopolitical and technological changes which are continually revolutionizing transportation, communication, commerce, education, and life experience; and WHEREAS these transformations are intertwined with rapidly increasing human population and resource consumption, and therefore bring about increased worldwide challenges and tensions; and WHEREAS engineering is crucial to addressing these grand challenges facing the planet, and to thereby enhance global peace and prosperity; and WHEREAS collaboration on grand challenges builds a stronger sense of global community, and U.S. engineering students engaged in global outreach are uniquely positioned to be ambassadors for the nation;

And WHEREAS the national economy, competitiveness, security, and well-being depend upon successful participation in a global, technology-driven marketplace; and WHEREAS the U.S. engineering culture brings ingenuity, boldness, and a results-oriented mentality that are crucial to global collaborative progress; and WHEREAS U.S. citizens tend to be poorly informed about nations and cultures and therefore underequipped to work effectively with international partners; and WHEREAS all of the above have vital implications for the education of U.S. engineers; IT IS IMPERATIVE that U.S. engineering educators and education adapt to the contemporary global environment; and IT IS IMPERATIVE that all engineering students develop the skills and attitudes necessary to interact successfully with people from other cultural and national environments.

TO THIS END, we call on engineering educators, engineering administrators, and engineering policy leaders to take deliberate and immediate steps to integrate global education into the engineering curriculum to impact all students, recognizing global competency as one of the highest priorities for their graduates; and TO THIS END, we call on funding agencies, foundations, and leaders in the private sector to shape their policies and priorities in support of these goals; and furthermore, TO THIS END, we urge that this document be widely distributed and endorsed by all key constituencies. Composed and endorsed this 6th day of November 2008 by the undersigned participants of the NSF-supported Summit Meeting on the Globalization of Engineering Education, who are committed to its realization and who put it forward for consideration by the profession at large.

If you would like to endorse the Newport Declaration please visit




Edward W. Ernst, Engineering Education Expert

Edward W. Ernst of Belleville, Ill., an electrical engineering professor who spent his career investigating the nature, scope, and direction of engineering education, died Nov. 14, 2008. He was 84. The founding editor of ASEE’s Journal of Engineering Education (JEE), Ernst was, at the time of his death, a distinguished professor emeritus of both the University of Illinois and the University of South Carolina.

Ernst was born Aug. 28, 1924, in Great Falls, Mont. He received a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and was a member of the faculty in electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois from 1958 until his retirement in 1989. He was program director for undergraduate engineering education at the National Science Foundation from 1987 to1990 and served as Allied Signal professor of engineering at the University of South Carolina from 1990 to 2000.



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