PRISM - American Society for Engineering Education - Logo - JANUARY 2005 - VOLUME 14, NUMBER 5
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A Gentler Approach

Frank L HubandThis month's cover story, "Hands-on Mentoring," focuses on how engineering schools are working to keep students from dropping out. This is a change from a generation ago when at many institutions, challenging freshman and sophomore courses were a way of weeding out engineering students. A new perception of how best to treat undergraduate students, however, has changed this "sink or swim" culture in some engineering schools to a more nurturing and helpful one. In some respects, diversity programs helped lay the groundwork and have been expanded to include all incoming students.

"Crafting a New Curriculum" examines changes in Japanese engineering education, particularly the Monotsukuri movement. Advocates of Monotsukuri—which means "the making of things" in Japanese and refers to precision hand-craftsmanship—believe it will revive engineering curricula and reinvigorate engineering education in that country. There is currently widespread zeal for teaching Monotsukuri, but critics and scandalized engineering instructors in the mainstream deride such claims and say Monotsukuri is nothing more than vocational training or American project-based learning. The concept of Monotsukuri, however, has helped establish the unusual Factory for Dreams and Ideas—the crown jewel of Japan's popular and rising Kanazawa Institute of Technology.

"Measure for Measure" looks at Alverno College, a women's liberal arts college in Wisconsin. I'm sure you are scratching your head and wondering what this has to do with engineering. Well, it turns out that Alverno has placed emphasis on assessment and outcomes for the past three decades. This emphasis was noted by the ExxonMobil Foundation, which gave the school a grant to share its experience of successfully building an education program around assessments and outcomes. The thought is that Alverno's approach could be helpful to engineering administrators and faculty striving (and in some cases, struggling) to meet revised standards adopted by ABET.

As usual, Prism offers a choice of interesting articles. If you have thoughts you'd like to share, I would welcome hearing from you.


Frank L Huband
Executive Director and Publisher
f.huband@asee.org

 

 

FEATURES
Lending a Hand - By Margaret Loftus
Crafting a New Curriculum - By Lucille Craft
Measure for Measure - By Alvin P. Sanoff
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