PRISM - American Society for Engineering Education - Logo SUMMER 2005 - VOLUME 14, NUMBER 9
ASEE today
President’s Letter - A LEAD SOCIETY
By Sherra E. Kerns


For some time, we’ve all been proud that ASEE has been a leader among engineering societies. Our membership is inclusive: We represent many engineering and related disciplines and a wide variety of academic, corporate, and government institutions. Our contributions are in areas that span issues affecting engineering education: from K-12 through two- and four-year engineering and engineering technology programs; from domestic to international educational systems; and from the scholarship of engineering education regarding classroom content and assessment approaches to our projects work in facilitating the awards of fellowships. Our fiscal and organizational health is strong. Our organization shows excellence in many respects, yet that’s only part of the reason that ABET designated ASEE a “Lead Society” in March 2005.

ASEE is a founding member society of ABET, having cooperated with other societies to form ABET (then called ECPD) in 1932. Last year, the ASEE Board of Directors requested that we be designated the ABET Lead Society representing programs in engineering, general engineering, engineering technology, engineering science, and engineering physics. This group includes almost 70 programs. Former ASEE President John Weese, our ABET Board representative, presented our motion with supporting materials and letters of endorsement from representatives of these programs, and the ABET Board approved the action without dissent.

As Lead Society, ASEE will select, train, assign, mentor, and evaluate the performance of evaluators for these programs, as well as provide advocacy within the Engineering Accreditation and Technology Accreditation Commissions of ABET on issues important to their success. Previously, these programs did not benefit from a Lead Society.

We will begin to serve engineering, general engineering, engineering technology, engineering science, and engineering physics programs in this role during the 2006-07 accreditation cycle. The tasks of selecting, training, assigning, and mentoring evaluators will be coordinated through our Accreditation Activities Committee, chaired by Edwin C. Jones, professor emeritus of electrical engineering at Iowa State and an experienced domestic and international ABET evaluator and team chair. We are most fortunate to have the experience and dedication to accreditation services Ed brings to this job. For more than 15 years, he assigned program evaluation visitors for IEEE, which includes approximately 500 programs. He has authored, and our ASEE Board has approved, a set of policies and procedures to guide our accreditation work.

Our new status opens opportunities for all members to explore their interests and to contribute in accreditation service. Prior service as a program evaluator for another Lead Society will neither assure nor prevent eligibility for service as an ASEE program evaluator. Every ASEE member selected to be a program evaluator will be provided training.

With this achievement, ASEE has again expanded its service to engineering education and gained another opportunity to demonstrate the excellence of its members in this new arena of influence and responsibility. Gaining Lead Society status has required the dedication, efforts, and cooperation of many, especially Ed Jones, John Weese, ASEE Executive Director Frank Huband, Multidisciplinary Engineering Committee members Joan Gosink and Jim Farison, ASEE liaison with the Technology Accreditation Commission Walt Buchanan, the members of the ASEE board during the past two years, and our colleagues on the ABET headquarters staff and board. Venturing into new territories requires that everything from the broad vision to the small details be attended, communicated, confirmed, and incorporated into the works of ASEE. For these achievements, I thank this group on behalf of our membership.

I also offer a brief and sincere note of gratitude for the many exciting experiences of the past year as your president. I hope to see you at the annual conference in Portland and personally express my thanks.



The Globalization of Engineering

In a continuing effort to connect the international engineering education community, the American Society for Engineering Education, along with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the National Natural Science Foundation of China, held the third annual International Colloquium on Engineering Education in September. Hosted by Tsinghua University in Beijing, the conference offered educators and researchers an opportunity to meet with more than 300 colleagues from around the world and explore different facets of engineering education, as well as share their own research. Speakers from more than 10 countries presented papers on three main topic areas: continuing education and its delivery, engineering education reform, and international recognition of qualifications. The following is a summary of the proceedings.

Industry wants engineering graduates who are well prepared in the fundamentals at graduation and who will continue their education throughout their careers. Customers—engineers and their employers—are defining the content and format of the continuing education they will buy. Successful continuing education offerings need to satisfy the immediate needs of industry, as well as the longer-term career needs of the engineers.

Continuing education broadens the knowledge of engineers beyond initial technical education to issues such as the environment, ethics, societal needs, and international issues. Engineers engaging in continuing education want a choice of synchronous, asynchronous, or blended-education offerings. They want access to a wide range of online degrees, certificates, and credentialing options. Engineers also want customized learning experiences, tailored to their current needs. They want a networked learning community and a team environment in which to learn.

Engineers in developing countries need to become up-to-date and learn about existing technical areas and newly developing technical fields. State-of-the-art knowledge is needed in order to enhance the competitiveness of their countries in the global marketplace. Today, continuing education courses for engineers often stress a combination of technical content and broader education—teamwork, international, soft skills, and management skills.

Continuing education is important for licensing, also. A license to practice engineering generally requires an initial accredited degree, testing, a period of experience, and then continued professional competency through lifelong learning. Some licensing jurisdictions now have mandatory continuing education requirements.

The technology for delivery of continuing education courses has generally moved from satellite to Internet delivery. Online laboratory experiences are being developed, utilizing virtual experiments. And while formal accreditation generally does not apply to continuing education programs, some groups, such as corporations, professional societies, and testing services do evaluate continuing education offerings. Measuring the results of lifelong learning programs should include assessments of the level of improved understanding, student engagement, faculty efficiency, and access to faculty members.

Continuing education providers are taking innovative approaches, such as offering chat rooms for networked learning, instructional associates to answer questions, and E-learning systems to make their offerings more attractive and effective. Looking ahead, continuing education providers need to move from one-way lectures to active learning. And initial college education needs to teach students how to learn throughout their professional careers.

International recognition of qualifications, which is essential to increasing the mobility of engineers between countries, is of concern to many, and many aspects of it remain to be settled. With increasing globalization, the need for mobility is increasing. Until the problem is solved, compromises, such as finding a partner in another country and having the joint work be carried out in the name of the local partner, are being used. At the meeting we heard about initiatives in many countries to develop processes that will contribute to a clearer and a more straight- forward answer to the mobility problem.

Many speakers addressed how an engineering educational program can be assessed so that valid comparisons can be made between them. This is essential to deciding on equivalence of formal education and work experience in various engineering programs. Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) include many countries and are expanding but still have a long way to go. Even with these, the practice of engineering in another country usually requires a license. An MRA is helpful in obtaining one but does not provide it.

The Washington Accord is one large MRA that presently has eight member countries, most of which are English speaking. Another MRA is the EUR ENG concept that ties together the engineers of the European Union. Neither of these confers a license to practice, which must be obtained in the country where the engineer wishes to practice. A third MRA is the Western Hemisphere Initiative, which derives from NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) and involves Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

The EUR ENG system bases its evaluation on inputs to the educational system, such as time spent in classes and the laboratory, qualifications of faculty, and resources available. Another form of assessment is based on outputs, such as a graduate’s knowledge, skills, and understanding of a wide range of scientific, engineering, and work-context issues. This system is used by several of the Washington Accord members. Other countries, such as Japan and Korea, are reported to use a hybrid of the two approaches.

A problem that is receiving much attention is setting a minimum quality for the education, first within each country and then within an MRA group. Many countries have settled this accreditation issue to where the MRAs represent groups that have mutually recognized standards. But accreditation and mutual recognition of the education of engineers should not be perceived as standardization. They deal with minimum standards that individual institutions are free to exceed. To do otherwise would deter innovation, an essential ingredient of engineering education.

The widespread activity that was reported at this meeting shows there is an influential movement in many parts of the world to effect positive changes in the way engineering education is evaluated and to work across borders to develop MRAs. However, this is still a work in progress.

It is interesting to note that during the keynote addresses, both Chinese and U.S. speakers addressed many of the same issues, including globalization, liberal arts, entrepreneurship, and relationship to world. It was agreed that the engineer for the 21st century must be different from the engineer of the past. Engineering is not as simple as it once was, and the education and training of future engineers need to reflect this. Engineers need to not only solve the direct problem but also to understand its context. The awareness of the social responsibilities related to and required by the solution adds a complexity to the practice of engineering that was not there before. The future engineer needs to be aware of the different interests of people who are stakeholders in the solution and process.

Student engagement opportunities such as the program between the University of Michigan and Shanghai Jao Tong University reflect one way of designing and promoting engineering education reform. Incorporating service-learning into the undergraduate engineering curriculum is another approach to student engagement.

The balance in the core curriculum between hard or traditional engineering content with soft skills or liberal arts education is a major challenge. How can we provide the whole education without prolonging the duration of education or diluting the content? Is the development of new courses needed?

Many of the speakers also raised the issue of engineering ethics. Currently, there is very little instruction focusing on engineering ethics in the curriculum, but there is a great need. In addition, there was discussion about different engagement models for students who go to work and students who go into research and training. When is the appropriate time to split these groups apart?

Several speakers focused on how to keep practicing engineers current in their field. Some expressed concern that industry does not recognize its responsibility in engineering education. Universities are beginning to address the need to provide education throughout an engineer’s career.

In terms of accomplishing education reform, accreditation was cited as a mechanism to help provide standards by which all programs could understand their strengths and weaknesses. The ability to communicate and share information globally was cited as a means to enable the exchange of engineering best practices and common curriculum. And continuing education was mentioned as a way of outreach to practicing engineers. Existing tools include the sharing of experiences and best practices via publications in journals such as the Journal of Engineering Education.

Russel C. Jones, World Expertise LLC, Falls Church, VA; William S. Butcher, ret. National Science Foundation, McLean, VA; Jane Chu Prey, Microsoft Corp., Redmond, Wash.


Engineering a Strong Economy

National Security and workforce issues were the primary focus of this year’s Engineering Deans Council (EDC) Public Policy Colloquium, which took place March 8 and 9 in Washington. About 100 deans of engineering from 34 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico attended the event. The colloquium, entitled, “Engineering’s Role in the Nation’s Future,” took place at the National Academy of Engineering building on Constitution Avenue. The colloquium featured a keynote address by Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) as well as presentations by scientific organizations and government agencies. On the second day of the colloquium, the deans divided into state groups and visited with their congressional delegations.

In the congressional keynote address, Rep. Cooper discussed the growing concern over the future of American competitiveness with countries that are educating an increasing number of engineers. “In today’s business world, a strong foundation in science and engineering is vital to success,” he said. “Enrollment in science and engineering graduate programs among American students dropped 10 percent between 1994 and 2001, while it rose 35 percent among international students. We clearly have to do a better job of encouraging America’s young men and women to seriously pursue studies in the fields if we want them to succeed and we want the American economy to continue to lead. I applaud the American Society for Engineering Education for their leadership in this area and share their commitment to get more Americans to support science and engineering studies at all levels of education.” 

Other speakers included James Duderstadt, former president of the University of Michigan; G. Wayne Clough, president of the Georgia Institute of Technology; John C. Crowley from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Arden L. Bement Jr., director of the National Science Foundation.

The deans discussed engineering’s role in defense R&D, national security, and workforce issues during the breakout sessions. Presentations were given at the breakout sessions by Gary Gabriele of the National Science Foundation, Daniel Goroff from Harvard University, Tobin Smith from the Association of American Universities, and Amy Flatten from the American Physical Society. In both the engineering workforce and national security sessions, the deans expressed concern over maintaining adequate opportunities for international students in engineering programs and suggested that a shortage of international students will impact the competitiveness of American engineering programs.

In the evening, the deans traveled to Capitol Hill for a reception honoring Sen. Christopher Bond (R-Mo.) and Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) with this year’s EDC Appreciation Award for their contributions to national engineering and science policy, research, and education. The deans also met with members of Congress and their staff. Most of the policymakers seemed “supportive” of R&D and S&T funding in the FY 2006 budget but were skeptical in the face of such a difficult budget climate. —Robert Malgieri


Highly Recommended

Sustainable Engineering Practice: An Introduction.
Edited by Jorge A. Vanegas.
American Society of Civil Engineers,
Reston, VA; 2004, 136 pp., $39.

Sustainable Engineering Practice: An Introduction. Edited by Jorge A. Vanegas. American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA; 2004, 136 pp., $39.The engineers of today face a world where the demands for shelter, sanitation, and energy, just to name a few, are ever growing. In an effort to create a primer on sustainability principles and their application to engineering work, the American Society of Civil Engineers has published Sustainable Engineering Practice: An Introduction. The report brings together basic dimensions of the history, concepts, and applications of sustainable engineering, as well as encourages engineers to integrate sustainable engineering into their work on a lifelong basis. The report includes accomplishments of engineers in sustainable development, a summary of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which was held in September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa, and examples of how sustainability principles can be integrated into engineering education and practice.


About People

The ASEE Nominating Committee, chaired by Most Immediate Past President Duane L. Abata, requests member participation in nominating board officers for the 2006 ASEE elections. Officers to be nominated for societywide positions are: President-Elect; Vice President Member Affairs; Chair PIC I; Chair PIC IV; and Chair PIC V.

All nominees must be individual members or institutional member representatives of ASEE at the time of nomination and must maintain ASEE membership during their term of office. Nominating Committee members are not eligible for nomination. The slate of candidates selected by the committee will not exceed two candidates per office.

Candidates for President-Elect must be active members who have served or are serving on the Board of Directors. Candidates for Vice President, Member Affairs shall be chosen from those who have served as Zone Chairs.
Candidates for Chair of the Engineering Technology Council, Chair of the Engineering Research Council, and Chair-Elect for Zone I and Zone III will be nominated and selected by their respective councils and zones, as the ASEE Constitution stipulates.

For each proposed candidate for a societywide office, submit a biographical sketch of fewer than 400 words that documents career contributions, ASEE offices held, awards and recognitions received, and educational background. Include comments on leadership qualities, ability to cooperate with others to achieve objectives, and willingness to serve if elected. A listing of members who meet constitutional eligibility requirements for the offices of President-Elect and Vice President Member Affairs is available from the Executive Director’s office at ASEE headquarters.

Send nominations in writing, marked confidential, by May 30. For nominations for the office of President-Elect, please include an advocacy statement. Mail nominations to Duane L. Abata, Chair, ASEE Nominating Committee, ASEE, 1818 N Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.


About People

The National Academy of Engineering elected eight new ASEE members in recognition of their outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice, or education.

George Georgiou, Joe C. Walter Jr. Endowed Chair, department of chemical engineering, University of Texas—Austin, for his contributions to protein engineering, especially the development of therapeutics to biological warfare agents, protein manufacturing technologies, and combinatorial library screening methodologies.

Carol K. Hall, Alcoa Professor of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, for applications of modern thermodynamic and computer-simulation methods to chemical engineering problems involving macromolecules and complex fluids.

Leah H. Jamieson, Ransburg Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and associate dean for undergraduate education, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., for innovations in integrating engineering education and community service.

David A. Landgrebe, Professor Emeritus of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., for contributions to the development of multispectral technology for remote Earth sensing.

Subhash Mahajan, chair, department of chemical and materials engineering, Arizona State University—Tempe, for advancing our understanding of structure-property relationships in semiconductors, magnetic materials, and materials for light-wave communication.

Danny David Reible, co-director, professor, and chair, department of civil engineering, University of Texas—Austin, for the development of widely used methods of managing contaminated sediments.

Pol D. Spanos, L.B. Ryon Chair in Engineering, Rice University, Houston, for the development of methods of predicting the dynamic behavior and reliability of structural systems in diverse loading environments.

Ralph T. Yang, Dwight T. Benton Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, for the development of the theory, methods, and materials for the removal of environmentally hazardous compounds from transportation fuels and other difficult separations.


Calls for papers

View the 2006 ASEE Annual Conference Calls for Papers at


ASEE Board of Directors 2005 Election Results

David N. Wormley is the new ASEE President-Elect for 2005-2006. Wormley is Dean of Engineering and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Pennsylvania State University. He currently serves as Chair of ASEE’s Engineering Deans Council. He will assume the position of ASEE President-Elect at the 2005 Annual Conference and become President the following year.

Other ASEE officers elected by members are:

Vice President, Public Affairs:
Albert L. McHenry, Dean of the College of Technology and Applied Sciences at Arizona State University East

Vice President, Finance:
Joseph T. O’Brien, University Relations Program Manager for the Hewlett-Packard Company

Chair, Professional Interest Council II:
Gary R. Crossman, Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering Technology at Old Dominion University

Chair, Professional Interest Council III:
Shirley B. Pomeranz, Associate Professor of Mathematical Sciences in the Department of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, College of Engineering and Natural Sciences, the University of Tulsa

Chair-Elect, Zone II:
John J. Uhran, Jr., Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the College of Engineering at the University of Notre Dame and Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering

Chair-Elect, Zone IV:
William R. Wells, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas


THE REAL WORLD - By Anna Mulrine
MAKING IT BIG - By Corinna Wu
RISING AGAIN - Photographs by Sylvia Plachy
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REFRACTIONS: Teaching for Posterity - By Henry Petroski
LAST WORD: Time for a Change - By Ernest T. Smerdon


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