PRISM Magazine  On-Line - October 1999 - Exploring the future of engineering education

The Evolution of Engineering Education

Frank L. Huband

Frank L. Huband As we approach the end of the millennium, engineering education is changing more rapidly than it has since the 1950s. These changes will affect the lives of all of us in the engineering education community.

Since the 1960s, engineering students have been asked to participate in surveys to rate the effectiveness of engineering courses. ABET is now requiring that each engineering program establish assessment procedures for all aspects of the curriculum, along with a plan for implementing these procedures. And in some states, legislators are looking at assessment requirements as a way to assure taxpayers they are getting their money's worth at state universities. In this month's Prism, Arnold Urken provides tips on using the Web to assist in this assessment process in "Taking Assessment Online." In addition, he offers some general do's and don'ts when designing survey questionnaires.

Also in this issue of Prism, we look at two indicators of engineering education's future. "Half Empty or Half Full?" examines the factors driving the increasing use of part-time and non-tenure-track faculty, the risks and benefits, and the effects on faculty seeking tenure. And this month's cover story, "Education With A Bottom Line," focuses on the growing competition that traditional universities are facing from private-sector corporate universities in post-graduate continuing/professional education. The story also looks at how the competition is forcing both companies and universities to think differently about their roles.

As you read this issue, I ask you to think about how your role as an educator is affected by these changes. What impact has the influx of part-time faculty had on the tenure process at your institution? What role, if any, is the assessment process having on you? ASEE will continue to highlight emerging issues in engineering education and, as always, I am interested in hearing how these issues affect you and your institution.


Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher 

P.S. You can now order reprints of stories in Prism that you would like to share with your colleagues or students. For more information, contact Libby Castien at (202) 331-3526.

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