PRISM Magazine Online - March 2000
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Tackling Big Issues

Frank L. HubandThis month's Prism highlights two areas of change in engineering education—the globalization of the United States' B.S.-M.S.-Ph.D. degree structure, at least in Germany, and the slow and difficult process of increasing gender diversity among U.S. engineering faculty.

For many decades, the German Dipl.-Ing. degree, longer and more intense than the U.S. bachelor's degree, has been viewed as one of the cornerstones of Germany's strong engineering competency. Adopted by several other countries, including the Soviet Union, this degree is increasingly being supplanted in Germany (and other Dipl.-Ing. countries) by the bachelor's and master's degrees, which have long been standard in the United States. Thus, as we contemplate increasing the time to completion of the first professional engineering degree to five years, Germany is reducing the length of their first degree. The factors involved in that decision include reducing the government's cost for engineering programs, and concern about the recent dramatic drop in engineering enrollments. Do these factors have a corresponding potential impact in the United States?

In the last several decades, the participation of women in engineering has grown from an invisible fraction to nearly 20 percent of undergraduate enrollment, and 7 percent of working engineers. Still, these percentages are smaller than those for any other substantial discipline group. What are the barriers to women's entry into the ranks of engineering faculty, and what can be done to overcome those barriers? These issues are being addressed by a number of organizations and groups today, and Prism has the results of a preliminary online survey of its female members and some discussions with women faculty members.

What are some other important issues that ASEE should be addressing? As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.

 

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