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
"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
"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