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American Society for Engineering EducationSEPTEMBER 2006Volume 16 | Number 1 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
Woman of the World - BY PIERRE HOME-DOUGLAS
Getting in Gear -     BY JEFFREY SELINGO

REFRACTIONS: Engineering and the City - By Henry Petroski
ASEE TODAY: President's Letter - Conference Highlights - 2006 Awards - Calls for Papers
LAST WORD: Closing the Gender Gap - BY RAYMOND SIMON

YEAR OF DIALOGUE: A Focus on Scholarship - BY RONALD E. BARR
BOOK REVIEW: Leonardo's Lost Robots - BY ROBIN TATU
ON CAMPUS: Ready, Get Set, Go!


In the coming months, the ASEE community will examine engineering’s vital role at every level.

I am pleased to serve as president of the American Society for Engineering Education. In ASEE’s 113-year history, this year is particularly important with respect to the national interest in engineering and its role in the economic vitality, security and health of the nation’s citizens. Important aspects of the contributions of engineering to these critical national issues have been highlighted in two recent reports and one book:

  • “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,” National Academies, 2006
  • “The Engineer of 2020,” National Academy of Engineering
  • “The World Is Flat,” Thomas L. Friedman, 2005

These publications identify the essential need for and the role of engineers in advancing the nation’s health and welfare. They also cite the importance of engineering’s contributions to innovation and the introduction of new technologies into the global economy. In particular, the National Academies’ report identifies the need for future engineers to prepare for careers that require increased emphasis on the creative and innovative aspects of engineering.

The American Society for Engineering Education has a critical role in advancing engineering and engineering technology education during this time of heightened national interest in engineering’s role. In the plenary session at this year’s annual conference, a Socratic dialogue was conducted to address “What Is an Effective Education for the Future and How Is It Best Learned?” The plenary initiated the ASEE Year of Dialogue, which will be focused at every level within the organization on how the ASEE community can advance engineering and engineering technology based on the wisdom and experience of faculty and students, as well as industry and government professionals. Work is already in progress under the leadership of Immediate Past-President Ron Barr to have meetings in each of our 12 sections building on the dialogue that began at the ASEE annual conference. The goal of these meetings is to engage all of our members in the task of developing the education necessary to produce effective global professionals for 2020 and beyond. In each issue of this year’s Prism, leading engineering educators will be writing about the Year of Dialogue.

This effort will also be supported and strongly informed by engineering and engineering technology education research published in the Journal of Engineering Education and with research and best practices that will appear in the new ASEE Web-based online journal that’s currently being launched. Our members are encouraged to identify their own and their colleagues’ educational research efforts that are appropriate for publishing in both the print and the online journals.

We need to draw collectively from the best thoughts and wisdom from around the world to produce graduates who can truly make a difference from a global perspective in the future.In light of the effort focused on the Year of Dialogue and with the emphasis on global engineering, ASEE’s work with educators across the world has never been more timely. We need to draw collectively from the best thoughts and wisdom from around the world to produce graduates who can truly make a difference from a global perspective in the future. To further these efforts, ASEE has become the home for IACEE, a global continuing engineering education society, and will sponsor the 5th Global Colloquium on Engineering Education this fall in Rio de Janeiro. The efforts to engage the global engineering community will be accelerated during this coming year at ASEE.

Finally, we could not engage collectively in developing the education for the global engineer of 2020 and beyond without focusing on prospective engineers and the critical need to attract and provide an education for prospective students, especially those from historically underrepresented groups. It is clear that these efforts must be significantly increased to make younger students more aware of engineering and engineering technology careers. To do this, we must join forces with K-12 students and teachers. This effort will be facilitated by ASEE’s new K-12 Division and K-12 Engineering Center in Washington. For example, the development of the outstanding publication “Engineering, Go for It!” has been a significant success, and plans are in progress for the next edition, which will bring the number of copies published in excess of 1 million. Significant opportunities exist for ASEE members to become engaged in ASEE’s K-12 activities and to have a measurable impact on students entering the profession.

In closing, I am deeply honored to serve as ASEE’s president. I look forward to working with our members in furthering the important goals of advancing engineering and engineering technology education, strengthening our global connections and engaging prospective students in our profession.

David N. Wormley is the president of ASEE and the dean of the College of Engineering at Penn State University.


The national publication and design community recognized ASEE’s publications department with 15 awards during the past year, up from 10 the previous year.

Prism won an Association of Educational Publishers (AEP) Distinguished Achievement Award for Excellence in Educational Publishing in the Feature Writing category for “Down, but Not Out,” a story about engineering schools in New Orleans that were temporarily shut down by Hurricane Katrina.

Prism also won four AEP Distinguished Achievement Finalist Awards:

Prism took home six APEX 2006 Awards for Publication Excellence from Communications Concepts, which  recognize the best in editorial content and graphic design by professional communicators:

In addition, ASEE’s K-12 publication, Engineering, Go for It!, won an APEX Grand Award in the One-of-a-Kind Publication for Children category.

Lastly, Prism’s March 2005 cover, “Why I Became an Engineer,” was honored with three prestigious design awards, one each from the Society of Publication Designers, Print magazine and the Society of Illustrators.


Completing the STEM: Learning Standards for K-12 Engineering Education

By Richard Blais

In a relatively short time, engineering education has become a significant part of the curricula in the nation’s secondary schools, yet no national standards for pre-college engineering education exist. National learning standards guide instruction in K-12 science, mathematics and technology, but not in engineering. This noticeable absence comes at a time when a valid set of comprehensive and rigorous learning standards for K-12 engineering is needed most.

Project Lead the Way (PLTW) has been committed to preparing an increasingly more diverse group of students to be successful in science, engineering and engineering technology programs at the post-secondary level for 10 years. Now through a dynamic partnership with the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) and with oversight of that organization’s STEM Career Cluster, PLTW will be coordinating and facilitating the development of engineering standards for the pre-college program with invested stakeholders.

Invited representatives from business and industry, higher education, government, engineering organizations and societies, along with K-12, will gather in Baltimore later this year to begin the development of these vitally needed learning standards. This diverse and informed development forum will include representatives from the Corporate Member Council of ASEE, Duke University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Purdue University, St. Louis Community College and Central Missouri State University, as well as representatives from ASEE, AAES, NAE, NAMEPA, NAPE, NASA, SME, NFPA, EIA and the Department of Defense. In addition, the group will include representatives from national teacher education associations for science, mathematics and technology education, other national STEM programs, CISCO Systems and Project Lead the Way.

We at Project Lead the Way are committed to leading this national effort to profoundly impact achieving the desired outcome of effective and applicable standards for STEM programs for the future of our nation.

Richard Blais is vice president of Project Lead the Way.


Chicago Highlights

For this year’s annual conference, ASEE set up camp in Chicago, a place known for its engineering and architectural marvels, the same city where ASEE was founded during the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. Within view of engineering feats like the Sears Tower, the John Hancock Center and the 150-foot Ferris wheel, a record number of attendees filled the Hyatt Regency Chicago for ASEE’s 113th annual conference. From June 18-21, 3,500 attendees, including just over 2,250 prime registrants, were treated to a premier plenary, six distinguished lectures, almost 1,500 paper presentations and a variety of informative workshops. Conference goers participated in the main plenary, where a panel of experts discussed key issues in advancing scholarship in engineering and engineering technology education. Attendees also enjoyed a happy hour and an ice cream social while they mingled with the 120 companies in the exhibit hall. On Sunday evening, attendees made their way to Navy Pier for the 2006 ASEE Picnic: Roar into the ’20s! presented by Dassault Systemes. A record level of corporate sponsorship helped make the conference one of ASEE’s best. When they weren’t in meetings or presentations, ASEE members saw engineering come alive in Chicago (View a Photo Slideshow) with an architectural boat cruise, a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and a King Tutankhamun exhibit at Chicago’s Field Museum.



Shown here with Vice President, Member Affairs Renata Engel (2004-06) are the society-wide winners: Kanti Prasad, pictured right, University of Massachusetts, Lowell (most professional members recruited) and Dean Warren R. Hill, accepting on behalf of William G. Clapp, Weber State University (highest percentage faculty membership).Campus Representative Awards

Campus representative award winners in the 12th annual “Spread the Word” membership recruitment campaign were honored at the Campus Rep Reception during the annual conference in Chicago. Shown here with Vice President, Member Affairs Renata Engel (2004-06) are the society-wide winners:  Kanti Prasad, pictured right, University of Massachusetts, Lowell (most professional members recruited) and Dean Warren R. Hill, accepting on behalf of William G. Clapp, Weber State University (highest percentage faculty membership).  The complete list of winners from each section can be found at

2006 ASEE National and Society Awards


2007 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Calls for Papers

Abstract submission is open till 5:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, October 4, 2006. If you have any questions, please contact the ASEE Program Coordinator, Jennifer Atkinson via email:



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American Society for Engineering Education