Industry can also assist schools' accreditation efforts. Engineering Criteria 2000 has two basic parts: it gives each engineering school the opportunity to define its own unique mission, and it requires that each school assess the outcomes of its educational process, determine if it is meeting its own objectives, and take corrective actions if necessary.
Those who spend every day on the industrial battlefield are ideally positioned to help a department define its mission in a way that is relevant to the business world that most engineering graduates will enter. Industry also has a great deal of experience assessing outcomes, and can suggest effective assessment mechanisms to assist academic departments. The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology's open invitation to innovate gives all schools the opportunity to demonstrate leadership, since successful programs will undoubtedly be emulated elsewhere.
As engineering faculty members, we cannot be satisfied with just keeping up with the changes taking place around us. We owe it to our students to anticipate their career needs and to prepare them to meet the evolving demands of our profession. The best predictive model for the educational and research needs of the engineering profession of the future will draw on information and wisdom from many quarters. We must dedicate ourselves to constant communication with our colleagues in government, other universities, accrediting agencies, the K-12 community, and, especially, with industry.
The cultures of industry and academics are clearly different. The first step in bridging these two cultures is open communication and a genuine attempt to understand both points of view. Developing strong industrial ties is a contact sport that requires time and dedication, but the return on this investment is well worth it.