Sunday, April 25, 2010

Engineering Deans Gather and Discuss Crucial Issues Facing their Schools

Paul Gilbert, CEO of Quanser and I recently participated in the American Association for Engineering Education (ASEE) Engineering Deans Institute (EDI), held in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Annual ASEE EDI meetings provide an opportunity for engineering deans, industry leaders and those in important roles in research and government to gather and discuss crucial issues facing their schools, colleges and profession. This year's meeting drew over 125 US deans and 45 corporate sponsors representing 26 companies.

The theme of the 2010 meeting was 'Rising above the Economic Storm". Some of the key threads discussed were:

- The importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education in the secondary schools to encourage and prepare students for the study of engineering
- How the National Academy of Engineering's Grand Challenges can educate and motivate K-12 students toward engineering and will affect future federal funding, impact colleges' and universities' strategic planning and offer a structure to break down the disciplinary boundaries and enabling interdisciplinary scholarship along societal issues
- The shift amongst college students away from a primary focus on their self-interest to a desire to make a difference and help solve the world's problems
- The continued impact and importance of international collaboration
- A general belief that future budget cuts, if any, will be spread out enough so engineering programs will endure without additional closure or consolidation, and stabilize

Paul delivered Tuesday's luncheon keynote addressing the issue of "Preparing Effective Global Engineers". He presented Quanser's mission of fostering leadership and global responsibility through creative engineering, illustrating its application through four key, practical and cost-effective strategies which Quanser has helped many schools to implement:
- Introducing Hands-on Learning
- Promoting International Collaboration
- Teaching Rapid Prototyping
- Appealing Early to Future Generations

I will be following up with the deans around the innovative concept of developing "Collaborative Undergraduate Labs". Labs, in which undergraduates will interact with other students in different locations, or even different countries, to develop fundamental collaborative skills - the skills now demanded of a Global Engineer. Quanser is taking up this challenged and working to identify and partner with leading colleges and universities to develop pedagogy and pilot studies that can lead to truly effective Collaborative Undergrad Lab environments. Look for further details in the next few weeks.

- Alan Jacobs -

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