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Mark Matthews

A Matter of Degrees

Don’t take Zohar Lazar’s whimsical cover illustration too literally: The debate over requiring a master’s as the first professional degree for engineers hasn’t escalated to fisticuffs. But it’s a sensitive, high-stakes topic for engineering educators, with strong feelings and sound arguments on both sides, and it’s not going away. Now that leading engineering societies are weighing in with state authorities and ASEE deans plan to take a position, we thought an objective, in-depth exploration was needed. Tom Grose’s cover story, “Steeper Ascent,” provides one. A sidebar poses the question of whether an alternative British model of a three-year engineering bachelor’s degree could gain U.S. acceptance. Tom’s reporting and Stacie Harrison’s design turn what could be a dry subject into a lively package.

The drumbeat of statistics on America’s penal system sounds a distress call. The numbers tell of overcrowding, high recidivism, swelling costs, and a disproportionate impact on minorities. But one number leaps out from Jaimie Schock’s feature, “Outside Chance”: Despite evidence that education and job training reduce the likelihood of an inmate’s committing more crimes, only about 6 percent of prisoners were enrolled in postsecondary education in the 2009-10 academic year. Could many potential engineers be falling through the cracks of U.S. prisons? We can’t know for sure, but New Zealand’s example of putting inmates on track to become qualified engineers – and fill a gap in that nation’s job market – suggests it’s a question worth asking.

As in past summer issues, our third feature is a photo essay. This year’s, collected with an eye for both style and substance by graphic designer Yajaira Lockhart, spotlights advances in textiles and clothing, from a dress that literally lights up the stage to a new cast for fractures and a suit to enhance a racehorse’s performance.

Don’t miss the third and final letter from ASEE President Don Giddens and a special section on what you can see, hear, and do at the upcoming ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition in San Antonio, Texas. See you there.

Mark Matthews




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