and Distance Learning
- By Russel C. Jones
technology has revolutionized distance education. It provides access
to learning that is independent of time, distance, and economic status,
and it allows flexibility in offering nondegree and degree work in a
variety of patterns. Furthermore, employers generally support engineers
who want to undertake continuing education, indicating that they want
employees who learn throughout their lives. Distance education in engineering
attracts many students who otherwise would not be motivated or able
to continue formal study. The educational results of distance ed. are
as good as face-to-face instruction.
delivery mechanism is moving from broadcast or taped video technology
to online delivery. The Nintendo generation demands technology utilization
increases the effectiveness of the learning process, facilitates access,
and opens learning to wider audiences. E-materials promote reuse of
educational material, and faculty members can offer multiple courses
from one content repository. Remote access to labs is now possible—students
can measure anything, anywhere, and use connected technology to analyze
and present results. E-learning is also becoming useful and common in
other areas of the curriculum like mathematics. And e-technology applications
in education allow better tailoring of courses to each student–taking
into consideration the student's experience, current needs, and
are incorporating e-technologies into course management, often utilizing
commercial software systems recently introduced to the market. Many
campuses are building full-service campus portals for comprehensive
access to all services and information by students.
are, however, several unresolved issues with respect to teaching online.
Faculty workload management is complicated by the unique demands of
distance education–such as e-mailed questions on a 24/7 basis.
Rewards for faculty members and academic departments within the university
system are not well defined and often do not fit within existing patterns.
The blending of face-to-face and online education is seen as desirable
but in what proportions and formats? The true costs of distance education
are hard to determine, and it is not clear that it will ever be profitable
for universities. Faculty members remain concerned about the security
of exams and other student work, and dropout rates for students enrolled
at a distance are typically higher than those in face-to-face classes.
Can distance education techniques be effectively used to give engineering
students some international exposure–for example, through senior
design projects done across international borders by student teams primarily
using e-technologies for interaction?
issues discussed at the conference were not resolved. How can engineering
educators tap the expertise of pedagogy and cognitive experts and utilize
their techniques effectively? Can e-technologies lead to an open-courseware
approach between faculty members at different universities, enhancing
the field of engineering education more rapidly? How can quality assurance,
and perhaps accreditation, be provided for in distance education? Systematic
assessment is needed to determine the effectiveness of the use of e-technologies
in engineering education and to guide continuous improvement in such
been shown that distance education is as effective as face-to-face education–but
can it surpass real-time, in-person learning? Some campuses are providing
extensive wireless access to faculty members and students–is that
necessary and cost effective? How can campuses provide wide access to
costly commercial software packages? Finally, one industry representative
observed that investments in utilizing e-technologies in education have
been much too small to date–and that much larger funding will
be needed to achieve real effectiveness and economies of scale.
and Global Aspects of Engineering Accreditation
- By Jack C. Levy
is in the public interest. It promotes the sharing of good practice,
and is of increasing importance for national and international recognition
of courses and their graduates.
on national systems of engineering accreditation covered six countries.
Some had existing well-developed systems, like France, the United Kingdom,
and the United States. In other countries, such as the Czech Republic,
Germany, and the Netherlands, the systems are still being established.
While the discussions showed that individual countries approach launching
and developing accreditation systems differently, all of the countries
faced the same core questions: Who accredits? Who finances? Who controls?
And who awards the professional title?
professional organizations, a special independent body, or universities
could all be potentially responsible for the accreditation process.
And the speakers showed that in practice there are many permutations
in use. For example, both the British and the American systems are based
upon accreditation, finance, and control by professional organizations.
But in the U.K., these organizations confer the Chartered Engineer title,
while in the U.S., each state separately awards the Professional Engineer
title. The long-standing French system and the new German approach are
based more upon government established bodies. Also, in some countries,
including France and Germany, engineering accreditation is part of a
larger national system covering all higher education.
was considerable discussion of outcomes assessment based mainly on ABET's
EC-2000 document. The consensus was that while the output approach had
much to commend it, the jury is still out on its ultimate effect and
that ABET may later have to revisit EC-2000. ABET's program of
motivating faculty change and training team chairs and evaluators was
commended and seen as key in changing attitudes.
of global-international accreditation, three types of agreements were
discussed. One seeks to transfer titles from one country to another.
For example, a U.K. Chartered Engineer could move to the U.S. and use
the title Professional Engineer and vice versa. No such examples are
known, but some bilateral agreements are similar to this type of agreement.
One such agreement exists between France and Canada.
option is to use a comprehensive new common title. Countries may agree
that their education and accreditation systems produce comparable results.
Individuals who meet a certain international standard may then use the
new common title. The European Engineer title (EurIng), covering some
24 countries and operated by FEANI, falls into this category. There
are about 25,000 EurIngs.
possibility simply recognizes an academic component. The Washington
Accord of 1989 is such an agreement. It depends upon mutual confidence
in the respective national accreditation processes. Graduates of accredited
courses in any of the participating countries are deemed to have satisfied
the educational standards in the others. The six original members of
the accord were Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., and
the U.S. Subsequently, Hong Kong and South Africa have joined while
Germany, Japan, and Malaysia are preparing to do so. The accord provides
only for the mutual recognition of accredited degrees, but in 1997 discussions
began to extend this to full mutual professional recognition, called
the Engineers' Mobility Forum.
the European Commission's statement on Higher Education in June
1999, which is known as the Bologna Declaration, drew comment from many
European delegates. It aims at a 3 + 2 pattern–where students
spend three years on either a general or specialized degree to a bachelor's
level and then two years to a master's level–throughout
European higher education. One experienced contributor said that meetings
about Bologna always left him confused–but at a higher level.
Engineering Students in Entrepreneurship
- By Jack R. Lohmann
words best describe an entrepreneur? Some possibilities are innovative,
creative, hardworking, focused, artful, and passionate. But how does
one teach engineering students the fundamental aspects of a successful
entrepreneur? In an attempt to answer this question, the work presented
during the entrepreneurship education portion of the colloquium focused
primarily on academic programs—or parts of programs—online
and outreach activities, and the underlying philosophies of entrepreneurship
said their primary goal is to help engineering students be better technological
business innovators, that is, to be more effective in mobilizing and
coordinating resources that move technological innovations to the market.
Engineering students are already well grounded in technology; thus,
these programs tend to emphasize the world of business, by including
elements of negotiation, patents, intellectual property, venture capital,
accounting and finance, business planning, and marketing. But the programs
should also encourage a creative and innovative spirit through resourcefulness
programs share three common qualities: a planned program of multidisciplinary
academic preparation that connects engineering to entrepreneurship;
businesslike experience to practice entrepreneurship; and interaction
with successful entrepreneurs.
common for these programs to reach out to their own institutional centers
or those from nearby campuses, to focus on market needs specific to
their location, and to capitalize on regional industrial or governmental
initiatives. In large measure, they shape and define their market niche
and capitalize on competitive advantages not readily available to others.
fit with an institution's mission of education and service can
have a strong impact on a program's success. Institutions of higher
education serve to contribute to society beyond their missions to educate
students. Successful entrepreneurship programs serve as intellectual
wells–attracting new technology ventures and resources to leverage
regional economic opportunities. And they do so in ways that support
the institutions' education and service missions without compromising
their not-for-profit focus.
institutional fit of entrepreneurship programs to the education and
service mission of their institutions often leads to local and regional
economic development. The impact is significant and highly visible to
the community and its leadership. As a result, the entrepreneurship
programs often receive valuable support and attract other new opportunities
for their institutions.
of continuous educational innovation from the outset is also important.
This approach fulfills the constituents' needs and fosters a competition
to make their programs even better. Successful entrepreneurial programs
collaborate freely and share the goal of sharpening and strengthening
their efforts. Their pursuit of educational innovation is as vigilant
as their pursuit of technological innovation.
problem facing program administrators is that student demand for these
programs is stressing their resources and has the potential to outstrip
their capacity to keep pace. They do not have enough time to adequately
plan for and manage the growth of the entrepreneurial programs. Consequently,
they face a shortage of readily accessible quality teaching materials
and need to increase the number and breadth of faculty involved.
clear that as these programs grow, they constantly face a creative struggle
to find the appropriate balance between the mechanics and the art of
entrepreneurship. The former can be characterized by a focus on logical
and rational approaches, an emphasis on the process of entrepreneurship,
and development of cool-headed thinking. The latter is characterized
by an emphasis on fostering a creative and innovative spirit, instilling
the need for successful performance, and nurturing entrepreneurial passion
and risk-taking. In essence, the programs often work hard to find the
appropriate balance between developing "habits of the mind"
and "habits of the hand"–a struggle often found in
engineering education itself.