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 ASEE TODAY


SARAH A. RAJALA
PRESIDENT'S LETTER

Conference Plenary will recognize JEE’s centennial and the Jamieson-Lohmann report.

Honoring Two Achievements

BY RENATA S. ENGEL

PHOTOGRAPH BY JIM GRAHAM

Celebrations are enjoyable and uplifting. They allow us to recognize accomplishments and renew our enthusiasm for charging ahead. I hope that in reading this letter, you will experience both the joy in seeing what we have achieved in one area of ASEE and a desire to contribute to future milestones.

Two recent ASEE milestones worthy of our celebrating together deal with the fundamental nature of education — helping others acquire new knowledge and skills. And both achievements have involved casts of thousands. I am speaking of the 100th anniversary of the Journal of Engineering Education and the release of the report Creating a Culture for Scholarly and Systematic Innovation in Engineering Education by Leah H. Jamieson and Jack R. Lohmann. Both reflect the values and responsibility of a society with “education” as part of its name.

JEE’s centennial means that as an organization we have been responsible for 100 years of professional communications on subjects that have shaped the way we educate, what we teach, how our curricula are designed, and what experiences supplement that curricula. JEE allows each generation of educators to communicate with the next generation in a seamless fashion, and to push the boundaries in various ways. Building upon previous ideas and being influenced by the times in which they live, each academic generation has left its fingerprints on the engineering education experience of today.

The journal’s archives remind us that the space race a half century ago launched more than rockets. It focused the nation’s attention on science and engineering and shifted our curriculum to include more of each with a greater emphasis on theory. The pendulum swung back a few decades later as we began to recognize that in addition to theoretical depth, there was a need to connect theory with application and to make room for hands-on design experiences. Now, colleges of engineering find themselves tackling topics related to access to and persistence in engineering education, accountability, interdisciplinary education, globalization, and innovation. These subjects, too, will influence engineering and engineering technology education in the future.

MANY OF US NOW SEE WAYS THAT WE CAN USE, DISCUSS AND CONTRIBUTE TO ENGINEERING EDUCATION RESEARCH.Our second hallmark is the release of the Jamieson-Lohmann report. Shaped by conversations among hundreds of members and survey input from the nation’s engineering academic leaders, the report addresses the various realms of engineering education research. We could not have predicted its contents when discussions began at the 2006 Annual Conference. I witnessed how this dialogue triggered thinking among our members when I was invited to speak at the 2006 Middle Atlantic Section Fall Meeting. I took the opportunity to pose questions to the audience — most of whom were self-described engineering education practitioners. We were discussing how engineering education research topics are identified. Several participants indicated that they felt removed from the process. Others, however, acknowledged that they were in a position to guide what type of research should be conducted. By the end of the meeting, audience members identified several actions they could pursue, such as using engineering education research findings when considering their own practices, discussing findings and methods with colleagues, coauthoring and reviewing papers, and learning about methodologies in related fields. By engaging in this manner, they recognized that they would be better equipped to bring the teaching and learning challenges they experienced to the forefront and contribute to research agenda questions. We saw these ideas surface in the Phase I report by Jamieson and Lohmann, which elaborates on the various roles of researcher and practitioner.

We will recognize both of these milestones at the 2011 Annual Conference Main Plenary session. Educators, researchers, and practitioners will highlight the cycle in which research shapes practice and practice influences research. Jeffrey Froyd (Texas A&M), Jack Lohmann (Georgia Tech) and Karl Smith (Purdue) helped me bring to life a plenary session which celebrates our achievements and will further illustrate our collec-tive commitment to education. For anyone who has ever planned a celebration, you know that it can be both exhilarating and daunting. We have thought about what we will provide, how the audience will engage, and what they will take away from the event. As with most celebrations these days, we will capture it on video, but we will also provide a short synopsis and a resource list — all in an effort to enable the audience to continue their work to influence the education of today and tomorrow.

 

Renata S. Engel is president of ASEE.

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 SINGAPORE DRAWS EDUCATORS
 FROM AROUND THE GLOBE

2009 ASEE K-12 WORKSHOP
At the ninth annual ASEE Global Colloquium, which took place Oct. 18 to 21, 2010, in Singapore, engineering educators from around the world got an up-close look at one of Asia’s most innovative countries and made a formal commitment to improving engineering education. The meeting, one of five that comprised the weeklong World Engineering Education Forum (WEEF), coincided with the first full conference of the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC), the annual summit of the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES), the Global Student Forum (GSF), and the biennial conference of the International Association for Continuing Engineering Education (IACEE). More than 600 participants from 40 countries as distant as South America and the Middle East attended the forum, underscoring Singapore’s status as an academic and economic “hub.” Asia was particularly well represented, with at least 110 attendees from Singapore and 150 from China, India, and South Korea taking part in the week’s events. 

“Asian nations are very serious in their desire to be at the ‘head of the line’ with regard to innovation in engineering education,” noted Satish Udpa, dean of engineering at Michigan State University and cochair of the 2010 colloquium. He pointed to the Singapore University of Technology and Design as an example of the “groundbreaking initiatives” the country has launched, calling “the vision and the ‘educational architecture’ ” envisaged by its founders “a revolutionary step forward.”

The forum officially opened at the impressive, newly built Marina Bay Sands resort with a Main Plenary that featured Yaacob Ibrahim, Singapore’s minister for the environment and water resources, and Richard Miller, president of Olin College in Needham, Mass. Both spoke of the need for engineering educators to prepare students for an increasingly complex and rapidly developing world. 

The Poster Presentation, a popular event of the ASEE Global Colloquium, drew many participants and offered a chance for them to network, interact, and discuss ideas. (All papers presented are available on the ASEE website.) The Socioeconomic Plenary, another trademark of the colloquium, was an informative session on the evolution of Singapore from a bustling port to today’s pluralistic modern city-state. “I would have wanted every student who went to Singapore to attend that session,” commented ASEE President Renata Engel. “The speaker was extraordinary.”

The WEEF had a celebratory moment in the inaugural IFEES Award Banquet, when Richard Felder was recognized as the first recipient of the IFEES Global Award for Excellence in Engineering Education. The Hoechst Celanese Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering at North Carolina State University is the innovator behind the National Effective Teaching Institute and an influential figure in faculty training in Indian engineering schools through the Indo-U.S. Collaboration on Engineering Education. In his acceptance speech, Felder sought to dispel “academic myths,” asking the audience to challenge assumptions behind typical practices in engineering education.

The week concluded with the signing of a formal declaration outlining steps to be undertaken to improve engineering education and help solve the engineering grand challenges of today. Attendees were called upon to recognize the worldwide need to innovate and renovate engineering education at all levels. Steps include developing sustainable education programs with robust domestic faculties and greater interdisciplinary breadth, focusing on global challenges, and fostering the socially inclusive attitudes and cross-cultural understanding required to unleash the creative power of diverse thinking. Jennifer DeBoer, past president of SPEED, the Student Platform for Engineering Education Development, led the initiative, partnering with WEEF organizations to draft the Singapore Declaration during the months leading up to the forum. 

“Science and engineering are universal, and there is no benefit in thinking that engineering colleagues in the United States are in competition with colleagues and colleges abroad,” Paul Peercy, dean of engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and cochair of the 2010 GEDC Conference, reflected. “The next generation of students is getting an outstanding education in science and engineering that is not geographically bound. The laws of physics are universal, need to be respected, and are independent of geography. Laws of economics also need to be respected. And it is critical that engineering fits into the local culture and provides value to society. The fundamental principle is that engineering improves the quality of people’s lives and meets the needs of our society and world.”

While the colocating of five events presented organizational and logistical challenges, many participants enjoyed the WEEF and valued the benefits of attending. Leaders of the five organizations already are starting to plan for similar joint events this year and in 2012.

—By Stephanie Eng 

 

 

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