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ASEE PRISM
  American Society for Engineering Education
American Society for Engineering EducationNOVEMBER 2007Volume 17 | Number 3 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
FEATURES
COVER STORY:  ‘PATCH AND PRAY’ - BY THOMAS K. GROSE
FEATURE: GM SHIFTS GEARS - BY MARY LORD
FEATURE: EYE ON THE WORLD - BY PIERRE HOME-DOUGLAS

DEPARTMENTS
COMMENTS
BRIEFINGS
DATABYTES
REFRACTIONS: Thinking Simple - HENRY PETROSKI
CLASSIFIEDS
LAST WORD: Don’t Overlook Industry - By DONALD A. KEATING & EUGENE M. DELOATCH

TEACHING TOOLBOX
TEACHING TOOLBOX: Knowledge Builders - WITH ‘ELECTRIC PICKLES,’ SPACE-SHUTTLE TILES AND OTHER ATTENTION-GRABBING STRATAGEMS, COLLEGE AND GRADUATE STUDENTS SEEK TO INSPIRE A YOUNG GENERATION OF POTENTIAL ENGINEERS. BY BARBARA MATHIAS-RIEGEL
JEE SELECTS: The Habit of Learning - SCOTT JIUSTO AND DAVID DIBASIO
ON THE SHELF: Our Town, Our World - ROBIN TATU


BACK ISSUES







 
LAST WORD: Don’t Overlook Industry - By DONALD A. KEATING & EUGENE M. DELOATCH  


Too little attention is paid to educating an innovative engineering workforce, putting U.S. competitiveness at risk.

Today, as never before, America’s competitiveness depends on continuous innovation by engineers working in industry. Their ideas are the creative well-spring of U.S. technological development. The need for innovation has been stressed by the Council on Competitiveness, which calls it “the single most important factor in determining America’s success through the 21st century,” and in the National Academies’ report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm, which recommends that we “ensure that the United States is the premier place in the world to innovate.”

This imperative points up a disturbing imbalance in education funding and emphasis that must be corrected. Over the last several decades, the United States has become pre-eminent in basic university research that benefits the scientific workforce. Yet the country has not made a parallel investment in professionally oriented graduate education to support the development of an advanced engineering workforce in industry.

One-size graduate education doesn’t fit all. Excellence in basic research and in engineering practice for world-class technology development and innovation are two very different pursuits. Lack of a system of coherent professional graduate education, relevant to the creative practice of engineering, has been a contributing factor to long-term underdevelopment of our nation’s engineering potential, threatening competitiveness. Whereas undergraduate engineering education prepares the young graduate for entry into the practice of engineering, there are nine levels of progressive growth and responsibility beyond the entry level. Each deserves attention and investment to more fully develop the creativity, innovativeness and leadership abilities of the nation’s engineers, qualities that can last throughout their careers in industry.

The National Collaborative on Engineering Graduate Education Reform was deliberately created in 2000 by the ASEE-Graduate Studies Division, Corporate Members Council, and the College Industry Partnership Division to meet this challenge. Composed of leaders from industry and universities across the nation, the National Collaborative has a goal of developing a new model of professional graduate education for engineers that furthers career-long professional growth. This model will be centered on engineering innovation and leadership.

At graduate centers planned by the National Collaborative, engineers in regional industry will be able to enhance their innovative capacity, competence and creativity. Regional graduate centers around the country will enable the engineering workforce in the surrounding areas to further develop the professional abilities required of engineers for responsible leadership of technology development and innovation, and, simultaneously, develop innovative new technology in industry. These skill requirements-from entry level through the chief engineer level-will serve as the framework for new curricula for professional master’s, doctoral, and engineer fellow programs.

The National Collaborative has gained widespread support, based on the impact that will be felt in every state from enhancing the innovative capacity of the regional industrial workforce. Partnering professionally oriented graduate education with the practicing engineering profession in America’s industry will stimulate significant regional innovation, new technology developments and economic growth across the country.

Donald A. Keating is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at the University of South Carolina. He is also chair of the National Collaborative Task Force and past chair of the ASEE Graduate Studies Division. Eugene M. DeLoatch is dean of engineering at Morgan State University and past President of ASEE. Many other task force members contributed to this article.

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American Society for Engineering Education