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ASEE PRISM
  American Society for Engineering Education
American Society for Engineering EducationSUMMER 2008Volume 17 | Number 9 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
FEATURES
COVER STORY: Earth, Wind and Science - IN JUST SEVEN YEARS, SUSTAINABLE ENGINEERING—TECHNOLOGY TO PROTECT THE PLANET WHILE RAISING LIVING STANDARDS—HAS CAUGHT FIRE WITH STUDENTS AND PROFESSORS ACROSS THE U.S. - BY CORINNA WU
FEATURE: Double Whammy - SOUTH AFRICA IS DESPERATE FOR TRAINED ENGINEERS, BUT ITS STUDENTS FACE MAJOR OBSTACLES: POOR HIGH SCHOOL PREPARATION—A LEGACY OF APARTHEID—AND LOSS OF INSTRUCTORS TO HIGH-PAYING INDUSTRY JOBS. - BY DON BOROUGHS
FEATURE: 3…2…1…- LURING WEALTHY THRILL-SEEKERS INTO SPACE, AN EXPANDING GROUP OF COMPANIES OFFERS OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ADVENTURES, PRICED FROM $100,000 TO $100 MILLION.

DEPARTMENTS
COMMENTS
CONTRIBUTORS
ASEE TODAY
BRIEFINGS
REFRACTIONS: Forgetting the Present BY HENRY PETROSKI
CLASSIFIEDS
LAST WORD: Key Members of the Team BY SANDEEP DILWALI

2008 Annual Conference
2008 ASEE Annual Conference - A glimpse of what's to come in Pittsburgh.


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ASEE TODAY: How To Make Change HappenJames L. Melsa

 
PRESIDENT'S LETTER
ASEE Board of Directors 2008 Election Results
Engineering Deans Council: Deans, Lawmakers Discuss 21st Century Challenges
Call for Nominations
Obituaries
The National Academy of Engineering: NAE Elects 9 from ASEE
Pitt Dean Honored for Lifetime Achievement
IFEES: Preparing Engineers for the World Market
2008 ASEE Annual Conference

Create a sense of urgency, communicate a bold vision and enlist others.

It has been a pleasure to serve as the president of ASEE during this past year. I have been impressed by the commitment of both the staff and volunteers of this organization. It has been an exciting year with much progress.

The fiscal status of the Society continues to be strong. The financial successes of the annual conferences and the projects program have made it possible to maintain ASEE dues at the same level since 2000 with no increase planned for the near future. The staff and volunteers who have organized and managed these activities are to be commended for their dedicated and excellent work. Both institutional and individual membership in the Society continue to grow; the current professional membership of approximately 10,000 is the highest in any calendar quarter for which we have reliable records. Support by our corporate members remains critical to the success of our varied activities.

In my first two letters, I talked about the need for change in engineering education (the 3Ns) and what ASEE is doing to help meet this need. I also urged you to initiate changes in your organizations. The reality is education as usual will no longer work -- change is necessary and, in fact, inevitable. But change, even for the better, is never easy. Before undertaking major changes in your programs, I urge you to spend some time studying the change process. Much is available in the literature regarding how to manage change successfully. The following comments are excerpted from work by John P. Kotter, an authority on management and leadership.

Eight Steps to Transforming Your Organization:

1. Establish a sense of urgency: Books such as The World is Flat, by Thomas L. Friedman, and studies such as The Engineer of 2020 (National Academy of Engineering) and Rising above the Gathering Storm (the National Academies) have helped to create a sense of urgency. However, it is critical that you relate this to the specific needs of your organization. Individuals have trouble sensing urgency in terms of broad, non-specific issues.

2. Form a powerful guiding coalition: Make change a team effort by enlisting faculty leadership, sympathetic administrators, as well as your corporate partners. In fact, you may find that corporate partners are your strongest allies and sources of knowledge, since many have already gone through and continue to experience significant change.

3. Create a vision: People do not want to follow an uncertain drummer. The vision needs to be bold, motivating and noble. It needs to speak of how change will improve the education of your students and the competitiveness of your institution and the United States.

4. Communicate the vision: Communication does not happen with just one memo, one paper or one speech. You must help people to understand what will be different and how it will be better for them. You must recognize that some people may feel disadvantaged in the new system and speak to this issue. You need to talk of the vision often and in a variety of forums. Make sure that you are living the vision – walking the walk – or others will quickly dismiss it.

5. Empower others to act on the vision: No major change will happen if a single person is trying to enact it. It is important to find others who see the need for change and believe in the vision. You need to enlist them in the process of removing the barriers to change and enhancing the forces that favor it. In the academic world, one of the most difficult tasks may be encouraging people to take risks and to step out of their traditional roles and modes of operating. Be sure to emphasize the vision in all of this activity.

6. Plan for and recognize short-term wins: It is important to find ways to achieve early successes and to recognize the people who have helped to achieve them. Hopefully, these successes will encourage others to join the effort and to support the vision.

7. Consolidate improvements and continue change: You need to use the early successes to continue to drive larger, more exciting changes. Most importantly, you need to seek ways to remove old programs and policies that do not fit the vision.

8. Institutionalize the new approaches: The new behavior must become standard, and change must become a continuing and established method of operation. New members of your organization must be encouraged to adopt the new behavior.

Good luck in leading fundamental changes in your organizations. I look forward to hearing of your successes at future ASEE Annual Conferences. Thank you for allowing me to serve as ASEE’s president during this academic year.

James L. Melsa is the president of ASEE and dean emeritus of the College of Engineering at Iowa State University.

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ASEE Board of Directors 2008 Election Results

J.P. MohsenASEE members elected J. P. Mohsen to serve as ASEE president-elect for 2008-2009. Mohsen is professor and chair of the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Louisville. He will assume the position of ASEE president-elect at the 2008 Annual Conference and become president the following year.

The proposed constitutional amendment was approved by a 635-majority vote.

Full election results for all ASEE offices are as follows:

President-Elect:
J. P. Mohsen (453 votes)
Professor and Chair
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
University of Louisville

Tom C. Roberts (375 votes)
Assistant Dean
Recruitment & Leadership
Development
College of Engineering
Kansas State University

Vice President, Member Affairs
Sandra A. Yost (497 votes)
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering
University of Detroit Mercy

John J. Uhran, Jr. (323 votes)
Senior Associate Dean Emeritus
Professor, Computer Science and Engineering Department
University of Notre Dame

Chair, Professional Interest Council I
Jessica O. Matson (442 votes)
Professor
Industrial and Systems Engineering Department
Tennessee Technological University

B. K. Hodge (320 votes)
TVA Professor of Energy Systems and the Environment
Department of Mechanical
Engineering
Mississippi State University

Chair, Professional Interest Council IV
Noel N. Schulz (459 votes)
TVA Endowed Professor
Department of Electrical and
Computer Engineering
Mississippi State University

Eric P. Soulsby (301 votes)
Assistant Vice Provost and Professor
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
University of Connecticut

Chair, Professional Interest Council V
Pat Hall (431 votes)
Associate Dean, Continuing
Engineering & Science Education
College of Engineering & Natural Sciences
University of Tulsa

Lynette Krenelka (289 votes)
Director, Distance Degree Programs
University of North Dakota

Chair-Elect, Zone I
Stephanie Farrell (110 votes)
Associate Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering
Rowan University

Bahram Nassersharif (35 votes)
Professor
Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
University of Rhode Island

Chair-Elect, Zone III
Charles McIntyre (89 votes)
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Construction
Management and Engineering
North Dakota State University

Terrence L. Chambers (82 votes)
Associate Professor
Mechanical Engineering Department
University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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Engineering Deans Council: Deans, Lawmakers discuss 21st century challenges

WASHINGTON—More than 100 deans of engineering from universities around the country gathered at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) February 26 for the Engineering Deans Council’s (EDC) Public Policy Colloquium. A slate of eminent speakers and expert panelists addressed the theme “Engineering Solutions for the 21st Century,” and a lively exchange of ideas ensued.

Budget panelists addressing the engineering deans are, from left to right, Tobin Smith, Jeffrey Mervis and Kei KoizumiThe morning session opened with a speech by NAE President Charles Vest describing the academy’s recently released study, “Grand Challenges of Engineering,” which lists 14 priorities for ensuring future health, safety, sustainability and quality of life on the planet. A presentation by Energy Under Secretary for Science Raymond Orbach followed. The session also included a science and technology budget roundtable featuring Tobin Smith (Association of American Universities), Kei Koizumi (American Association for the Advancement of Science) and Jeffrey Mervis (Science magazine). Later that day, deans attended a tutorial designed to promote effective interactions with Congress. Parallel breakout sessions focused on energy, university-industry collaboration, and the way in which society views and teaches engineering.

Deans David Wormley, left, and Joseph Cecchi engage in discussion during a reception in the NAE's Great Hall.On the second day of the two-day event, state delegations of deans visited congressional offices on Capitol Hill to discuss public policy issues and funding for science.

ASEE’s Engineering Deans Council is the leadership organization of the more than 300 colleges of engineering in the United States.

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Call for Nominations

The ASEE Nominating Committee, chaired by Immediate Past President David N. Wormley, requests member participation in nominating board officers for the 2009 ASEE elections. Officers to be nominated for society-wide positions are: president-elect; vice president, external relations; vice president, finance; chair, Professional Interest Council (PIC) II; and chair, PIC III.

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, external relations must be active members who have served at least two years on the Projects Board. Candidates for vice president, finance must be active individual members or institutional member representatives of ASEE.

Candidates for chair of the Engineering Deans Council, chair of the Corporate Member Council, and chair-elect for Zone II and Zone IV will be nominated and selected by their respective councils and zones, as the ASEE constitution stipulates.

For each proposed candidate for a society-wide 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, external relations is available from the executive director’s office at ASEE headquarters.

Send nominations in writing, marked confidential, by May 15. For nominations for the office of president-elect, please include an advocacy statement. Mail nominations to David N. Wormley, Chair, ASEE Nominating Committee, ASEE, 1818 N Street, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036.

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OBITUARIES: Georgia Tech Professor William Sayle

William SayleWilliam E. Sayle II, an electrical engineer known as a skilled teacher, an advocate for students and a champion of diversity during his 37 years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, died Feb. 2 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 66.

Professor Sayle joined Georgia Tech’s electrical engineering faculty in 1970 as the school began its transition from undergraduate university to research institution. Rising to full professor, he served as electrical and computer engineering (ECE) associate chair for undergraduate affairs from 1988 to 2003. He received the ECE outstanding teacher award twice, as well as the Georgia Tech outstanding teacher and outstanding service award.

“Bill was a tireless advocate for students, putting in countless late night and weekend hours in addressing student issues, assigning teaching assistants, and meeting with prospective students and parents,” colleague Joseph L. A. Hughes, a professor and senior associate chair of ECE, wrote after Professor Sayle’s death.

Eager to recruit minorities and women to engineering and science, Sayle visited many high schools on behalf of the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering, according to Hughes. An Atlanta Journal-Constitution obituary reported that at ECE, Sayle worked to substitute gender-neutral words for sexist language. “He was a crusader,” a second former colleague, Alvin Connelly, told the newspaper.

Sayle was involved in Georgia Tech faculty governance as well, serving as an elected member of Institute-level committees, the Academic Senate, and the Executive Board. Describing Sayle’s mentoring efforts, Hughes wrote, “Without a doubt, I would not be where I am in my career without his guidance and assistance.”

After retiring from ECE in 2003, Sayle was director of undergraduate programs at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, in France, until 2007.

Early in Sayle’s career, he assumed a role in professional groups as a founding member of the Power Electronics Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). A fellow of both ASEE and IEEE, Sayle was a long-time member and active volunteer in ASEE’s Electrical and Computer Engineering division, winning its 2001 meritorious service award and 2006 ECE distinguished educator award, and in the IEEE Education Society, which gave him a meritorious service award in 2001.

He was the general chair of the 1995 Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference, and the following year received the 1996 Ronald J. Schmitz Award for outstanding service to FIE.

Sayle maintained an ongoing involvement with accreditation, serving at various times as member and chair of the IEEE Committee on Engineering Accreditation Activities and the IEEE Accreditation Policy Council. He participated in more than 20 visits as a program evaluator and was a team chair and member of the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET for more than five years. He received the IEEE Educational Activities Board Meritorious Achievement Award in Accreditation Activities in 2004.

A Texas native, Sayle received his BSEE and MSEE degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. from the University of Washington.

Survivors include his wife, Joyce; a daughter, Amy Sayle; two stepdaughters, Julie Norfleet and Emily Webb; and two sisters, Carol Ann Sayle and Linda Gates-Green.

OBITUARIES: Charles Hubert, Merchant Marine Academy Professor

Charles HubertCharles I. Hubert, professor emeritus, who taught electrical engineering at the United States Merchant Marine Academy for 35 years, died July 24, 2007, a day before his 90th birthday. His long academic career included design of the academy’s first engineering laboratory and development of courses for foreign naval officers and nuclear technicians aboard the first U.S. nuclear powered merchant ship, the NS Savannah. Hubert also authored five books, several of which have been translated and published overseas. Two, Preventive Maintenance of Electrical Equipment and Electric Machine Theory, Operation, Applications, Adjustments, and Control, were published in two editions.

A graduate of Cooper Union, Professor Hubert received a master’s in electrical engineering from the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, now Polytechnic University, and was a licensed professional engineer. He joined the academy in 1943 and eventually became a full professor, retiring in 1978. He received the academy’s Sue Alice McNulty award for distinguished teaching and an honorary doctorate from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. After retiring, he typically spent one day a week in the engineering department, conducting research, offering advice on machinery in the new electrical laboratory or assisting new faculty members.

A life member of ASEE, as well as a campus activity coordinator for the society, Hubert was also a life member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and both a technical operations representative and chairman of various committees for IEEE.
Funeral services for Hubert were held July 28, 2007 in East Northport, NY.

Hubert’s widow, Josephine, died on March 29, 2008. Survivors include sons Carl, Robert and Thomas, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

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The National Academy of Engineering: NAE Elects 9 from ASEEWASHINGTON – Nine members of ASEE have been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, one of the highest professional distinctions accorded to an engineer. They were among 65 new academy members and 9 foreign associates whose election was announced Feb. 8 by NAE President Charles M. Vest.

Academy membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature;” and to the “pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education,” the NAE announcement said. The February election brings the total membership of the academy to 2,227 and the number of foreign associates to 194.

The ASEE members elected to the NAE, and the engineering accomplishments cited by the academy, are:

Bernard Amadei, professor of civil engineering, University of Colorado, Boulder, for the creation of Engineers Without Borders; leadership in sustainable development education; and research on geomechanics.

Dennis N. Assanis, Jon R. and Beverly S. Holt professor of engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for scientific contributions to improving fuel economy and reducing emissions of internal combustion engines; and for promoting automotive engineering education.

Robert H. Dodds Jr., professor and department head, M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Chair of Civil Engineering, department of civil and environmental engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for contributions in non-linear fracture mechanics and applications to practice in nuclear power and space systems.

David A. Dzombak, Walter J. Blenko, Sr. Professor of Environmental Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, for the development of models used in evaluating chemical behavior in water quality engineering and environmental remediation.

John L. Hudson, Wills Johnson Professor, department of chemical engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, for advances in the understanding and engineering of complex dynamic chemical-reaction systems.

Jon M. Kleinberg, professor of computer science, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., for contributions to the understanding of the structure and behavior of the World Wide Web and other complex networks.

Rebecca Rae Richards-Kortum, Stanley C. Moore Professor and chair, department of bioengineering, Rice University, Houston, for research on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in women, and for leadership in bioengineering education and global health initiatives.

R. Paul Singh, professor, biological and agricultural engineering department, University of California, Davis, for innovation and leadership in food engineering research and education.

Yannis C. Yortsos, dean, Viterbi School of Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, for fundamental advances in fluid flow, transport, and reactions in porous media applied to the recovery of subsurface resources.

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Pitt Dean Honored for Lifetime Achievement

Gerald D. HolderGerald D. Holder, the U.S. Steel Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, received the 2008 William Metcalf Award from the Engineers’ Society of Western Pennsylvania (ESWP) for his lifetime achievement in engineering.

The award, named after EWSP’s founder, goes to an outstanding engineer in a field normally associated with Western Pennsylvania, such as steel, aluminum, coal, glass or electrical equipment. The winner receives a 12-by-14-inch stainless steel plaque bearing a likeness of Metcalf.

Now in his 27th year at Pitt, Holder is an authority on gas hydrates, a potential energy source composed of gas molecules trapped in hydrogen-bonded water molecules. The period since he became dean in 1996 has seen unprecedented growth in students, reputation and resources. The school’s endowment has more than doubled, and research grants awarded to engineering faculty jumped from less than $20 million to more than $55 million.

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IFEES: Preparing Engineers for the World Market

IFEES fosters international collaboration to improve skills and provide uniform standards. By Thomas K. Grose

Istanbul, Site of IFEES Global Summit.ISTANBUL—After the old Soviet Union crumbled, the now-independent country of Kazakhstan was left with the clunky remains of a Soviet-style system of higher education. That was a problem particularly for its technical schools, which the Kazakhs hoped would churn out the skilled and innovative engineers and technicians required for a 21st-century, market-based economy that can compete on a global scale. Clearly the old Communist model wasn’t built to accommodate private industry. So about four years ago, Kazakhstan began overhauling its engineering curriculum.

For help in that effort, it joined the Austria-based International Society for Engineering Education (IGIP). And it was at an IGIP conference that some of the country’s key engineering educators learned about a fledgling new organization: the International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES). “We were very interested, and we talked . . . about how Kazakhstan could become a member,” recalls Valeris A. Antonov, an engineering professor at the D. Serikbajev East-Kazakhstan State Technical University. However, there was a hurdle: Kazakhstan didn’t have an engineering education society. In 2006, at a meeting of technical school rectors at Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Education and Science, the Kazakhstan Society of Engineering Education (KSEE) was born, comprising educators from 20 founding universities. It soon thereafter joined IFEES. And last September, Galim Mutanov, rector of East-Kazakhstan State, led a KSEE delegation of six professors and two students to Istanbul, for the first IFEES Global Summit. That was a milestone for both groups, because reaching out to engineering educators in the developing world is a key part of IFEES’ mission.

The seeds for the kickoff IFEES Global Summit were planted a year earlier, in autumn 2006 in Rio de Janeiro. That’s when the group was created, at the fifth annual ASEE Global Colloquium on Engineering Education. It’s based on the notion that collaboration — networking and the sharing of good solutions to confront common problems and issues — among societies around the world can improve engineering education and help meet growing demand for a global supply of well-prepared graduates. Says Frank Huband, ASEE executive director: “There are pragmatic things that IFEES can do, including ensuring best practices go from country to country.” It’s especially important for educators from developed countries to help those in developing nations, like Kazakhstan, speed the pace of change. The 2007 Istanbul summit, held on the hilly south campus of Turkey’s Bogazici University, with its breathtaking views of the Bosporus, packed many wide-ranging discussions into a two-day schedule.

One point was hammered home often: that the shortage of capable engineers is a global problem. Some 4,000 engineering schools worldwide graduate 1 million engineers a year. The trouble is, as Hulas H. King, director of global community relations at Siemens PLM, points out, annual demand is for 3 million. There’s also no doubt, says Bruno Andre Laporte, manager of the World Bank’s Knowledge & Human Development group, that engineering is a pillar of the global, knowledge-based economy: “Science and engineering are really the core drivers of innovation.” And the dearth of engineers is even acute in countries like India and China, which in recent years have greatly ramped up the numbers they graduate.

In a world where a globalized economy reigns, where labor markets now stretch well beyond national borders and time zones, summiteers were constantly reminded of the need to graduate a new breed: the global engineer. “Bridges succeed or fail for the same reasons anywhere in the world,” Huband explains. “The technologies of engineering are the same throughout the world,” regardless of discipline, “and professional engineers could work anywhere.” So many major companies today are multinationals that engineers will almost inevitably be called upon to work overseas, collaborate with foreign colleagues or design products for global markets.

A consistent theme at the summit was the need to broaden engineering education to include more so-called “soft skills.” Representatives from industry essentially spoke as one in voicing the complaint that too many engineering graduates, while technically proficient, often lack non-technical skills that are just as important to the practice. New graduates also need: to be curious and able to ask questions, to be critical, to understand complex systems, to work well in teams, to communicate competently, to know how to solve problems, to know how to teach themselves new skills, to have an appreciation of societal needs, and to be adaptable, self-starting and motivated.

Obviously, there is a mismatch between what schools produce and what companies are looking for, says Lueny Morell, IFEES president-elect and director of university relations, Latin America, for Hewlett-Packard. M.P. Ravindra, a senior vice president at Infosys and head of its education and research operations, argues that too much teaching is geared toward students hoping to earn a Ph.D. and do research, even though only 2 to 3 percent of graduates follow that career route. “That is a mistake. They are trying to make Einsteins out of everybody . . . but the main focus should be how to service the market,” namely industry. “IFEES is a vehicle for us to have input and influence . . . to serve as a feedback group.” Maria Rimini-Doring, a researcher and supervisor at the German conglomerate Robert Bosch, says the important non-technical skills are misnamed. “They are very hard to learn, they’re not ‘soft skills.’” Adds Laporte: “Innovation is what happens in the space between the disciplines, and that’s hard to teach.”

Perhaps the topic that reared its head most often in Istanbul was the need for a globally-recognized accreditation system. ABET, the U.S. accreditation agency, is the lead member of the Washington Accord group — an affiliation of 12 countries that have achieved substantial equivalency in their accredited engineering programs. More recently, EUR-ACE, a Europe-wide accreditation system of engineering education, was launched. It gives the EUR-ACE quality assurance stamp to national accreditation agencies that meet certain standards. However, differences between the U.S. and European approaches have yet to be resolved — a major hurdle in devising a global system.

Why does it matter? When companies are dealing with students from schools they’re unfamiliar with, it’s important for them to know that the schools’ engineering programs are of an acceptable standard and that their graduates are capable of practicing entry-level engineering. For students, globally accepted accreditation gives them more mobility between schools, especially if they choose to study overseas.

Huband says he thinks IFEES “could act as a mediator between the Washington Accord and Europe, an honest broker.“ To be sure, some attendees said that, while accreditation is an important issue, it’s given too much significance. Laporte, for example, says curriculum content is a bigger issue. And Xavier Fouger, director of Dassault Systèmes’ PLM (product lifecycle management) Academy, says, “It is not critical, it’s not a necessary criterion for us.” However, he adds, giving students more opportunities to study overseas is helpful: “To employers, this has value, that students have international experience.”

Some 4,000 engineering schools worldwide graduate 1 million engineers a year. But there is demand for 3 million.One of IFEES’ key goals is to establish and operate a Global Engineering Deans Council. It’s a job that’s been tasked to Seeram Ramakrishna, engineering dean at the National University of Singapore. Engineering deans have to grapple with huge budgets, large groups of faculty, staff and students, and issues ranging from shortages of quality faculty, to increasing demands from industry, to fund-raising. Yet, Ramakrishna says, there is no formal training for deans to give them the management skills the job requires. As envisioned, the deans’ council would, as a global network of deans, facilitate the collecting and sharing of advice and research. Ideally, it’s hoped that an IFEES deans’ council will develop a training program for new and aspiring deans that could be sold on DVD or tape. This would also be a way for the organization to raise needed revenues. The deans’ council is also seen as IFEES’ potentially best vehicle to lobby for global changes in engineering curricula.

Engineering educators in Kazakhstan, inasmuch as they are in the middle of overhauling their engineering curricula, are certainly eager to consider ideas from elsewhere. Antonov says one of the reasons KSEE was created and joined IFEES was, “We want to study the systems of other countries. We are eager for contact with other universities.”

Kazakhstan’s tech schools used to have a five-year engineering degree program. It recently went to a four-year bachelor’s degree. The first bachelor’s degree students graduated this spring. Beyond the need to modernize, Kazakhstan’s reorganization is also driven by a need to graduate more students more quickly. “Intake is, for industry, a problem. There are not enough engineers,” Antonov says. He called the summit “a great experience. It was very good to hear the discussions of so many problems we’re interested in.” In fact, he says, his country wants to host a future IFEES summit.

Turkey, the initial host country, is also glad to be a part of IFEES, says Hasan Mandal, chairman of the Turkish Engineering Deans Council. A critical issue for Turkey, Mandal says, is “a lack of cooperation with stakeholders, mainly industry.” Turkish industry places great pressure on academics to do research and isn’t interested in teaching. “All their resources go to research outcomes, not teaching outcomes. But we want to encourage our faculty to engage more in teaching.” Mandal’s hoping to hear from other IFEES members on ways to get more funding for teaching from industry.

Overall, Mandal called the summit a success. “For a first summit, it was quite good, a good starting point.” But to keep IFEES sustainable, Mandal says, “we must not repeat ourselves,” and future summits must introduce new topics and discussions.

Thomas K. Grose is a freelance journalist based in the United Kingdom.

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