Learn about diversity at ASEE
ASEE would like to acknowledge the generous support of our premier corporate partners.


Photo: Renata S. Engel
Examine, then Act

Our history is one of careful study and willingness to change.

By Renata S. Engel

In my opening address at the annual conference, which is posted online, I emphasized the importance of learning, contributing, and serving. Those words were put into action soon afterward when I represented ASEE at the Washington, D.C., celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur and the Kanpur Indo-American Program (KIAP). Having been invited to the celebratory conference in recognition of ASEE's assistance at the time the IITs were established, I was asked to join a panel discussion. The invitation prompted me to look back at what was happening 50 years ago in ASEE.

My primary source for this snapshot in time - a half century ago - was the Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, Volume 68, 1960-1961. This volume included President Eric Walker's addresses, Secretary W. Leighton Collins's reports, the Journal of Engineering Education, and ASEE's Annual Report. This rich source of information captured my attention - not only because of the parallels with current discussions but because I could see how the work of the society evolved, how some issues remain as relevant today as they were then, and how ASEE contributed to the professions of engineering and engineering technology. I share some of those observations here because of the story they tell about our past and how those contributions influenced the present and, therefore, our future.

I smiled when I read the papers that debated the role of computers versus slide rules in education, the use of overhead projectors instead of blackboards, and the use of motion pictures to capture laboratory demonstrations. I noticed remarkable similarities to current discussions in engineering education on the effective uses of wikis, blogs, and other social media.

Photo: Renata S. Engel

We owe thanks to the educators of 50 years ago who responded to the findings in those (or other) proceedings, made room for new tools, and devised or were purposeful in choosing to adopt new ways of teaching. I am sure that our profession has reaped the benefits of their innovative efforts. Similar to their counterparts of decades ago, today's educators strive for gains in student learning. They seek the essential elements and make judicious choices knowing that some skills or content might be downplayed or even removed when employing new technologies or new ways of educating, or when redesigning curricula. Employing the most contemporary technology and staying attuned to the engineering challenges graduates will be addressing makes the task all the more daunting, but imperative, as we meet our responsibilities to educate the next generation of engineers for a global workforce.

My second observation when reviewing the 1960-1961 Proceedings was ASEE's commitment to conduct significant studies and use those findings in ways that moved the society to action beyond writings and discussion. Remarkably, 30 years after the 1930 Wickenden Report appeared, ASEE continued to reference that comprehensive work in shaping faculty support and affirming the role of liberal studies in the curricula at engineering schools and technical institutes. Generations have passed since the original findings and recommendations. Yet the legacy of that report and others, such as the 1955 Grinter Report, which urged a strengthening of work in the sciences, graduate education, and faculty development, is observable today through faculty workshops such as the National Engineering Teaching Institute and through the current structure of curricula to balance technical subjects with general education and skill development. I expect the final phase of Creating a Culture of Systematic and Scholarly Innovation in Engineering Education, which sought input from all ASEE members and will be finalized later this year, will produce a report with equally strong impact.

There are many other stories to tell from those Proceedings: papers that stimulated discussion about the need for a National Academy of Engineering, eventually created in 1963; a collection of papers from members who attended the first Pan-American Congress on Engineering Education; and council action that created a Projects committee, which now oversees a portfolio of projects exceeding $60 million annually, mostly for fellowships. Let it suffice to say when I finished reading the proceedings, I had a sense of pride in our organization for what it has accomplished in living up to its leadership role in engineering and engineering technology education and thereby making an impact on the profession and society. I also recognized that, like our predecessors, we owe it to the next generation to continue making a difference by building upon the scholarship, applying what the findings tell us, and pushing the boundaries of how and what we teach.

As we begin this new academic year, I ask you to engage in the work of ASEE and to contribute to our organization's future by building upon the strong foundation of our past. Opportunities abound for you to exchange ideas with colleagues down the hall and around the world, to put ideas into action, to become active in the society's divisions or sections and invite others to join you, or to initiate the nomination of a colleague for an award or a student for a fellowship. Your contributions are sure to make a difference.

Renata S. Engel is president of ASEE.




Please view our photo slideshow from the 2010 Annual Conference in Louisville, KY below:

Don't have Flash? Install Flash or View the Alternate Version of the 2010 Photo Slideshow




The 2010 ASEE National and Society Awards can be viewed here:



 ASEE Annual Conference
 2009 Best Paper Awards

The 2009 Best Paper Awards can be viewed here:




Photo: Renata S. EngelAs ASEE’s Journal of Engineering Education prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary next year, it continues to gain recognition as a valuable resource.Published by ASEE, in partnership with 10 international engineering education organizations, JEE has earned top rankings from Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Reports. Most recently, the journal placed first out of 27 journals in the category “Education, Scientific Disciplines” and second of 79 journals in the category “Engineering, Multidisciplinary,” both in the Science Citation Index. Moreover, JEE placed third out of 103 journals in the highly competitive category of the Social Sciences Citation Index, “Education and Education Research.” The rankings are based on a five-year impact factor, a measure of the degree to which a journal’s articles are cited.

As noted in the April 2010 issue of Prism, JEE was ranked among the top 5 percent of nearly 21,000 international research journals by the Australian Research Council as part of the 2010 Excellence in Research for Australia initiative. JEE received the ARC’s top rating, A*, awarded to journals judged to be the “best in their field.” It is the only journal in engineering education to receive this top rating and one of only six journals also listed on the Thomson Reuters Social Sciences Citation Index in the category of education and education research to receive the A* rating. The other journals are the American Educational Research Journal, British Educational Research Journal, Harvard Educational Review, Oxford Review of Education, and Review of Educational Research.

“We are pleased that so many education scholars look to JEE as an important resource for their research. It speaks volumes about the quality of engineering education research today,” remarked Jack Lohmann, JEE’s editor. ASEE President Renata Engel said, “We are delighted with JEE’s continued success. It is well positioned for even greater contributions to the advancement of engineering education as JEE approaches its second century.”

For more information about JEE, its strategic plan, and its annual report, see Extracts of JEE articles appear regularly in Prism.




The 2011 Annual Conference Call for Papers can be viewed here:





© Copyright 2010
American Society for Engineering Education
1818 N Street, N.W., Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036-2479
Telephone: (202) 331-3500