I recently participated in the American Association for Engineering Education (ASEE) Engineering Deans Institute (EDI), held in Palm Springs, CA. 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.
The theme of the 2011 meeting was “Engineering Empowering Society”. For a few days, the single-stream program fostered dialogue between deans, industry leaders, and those in important roles in research and government. Some of the key threads discussed were:
- Engineering as enabling discipline: Impacting the economy, through innovation and the creation of new businesses and enterprises; empowering the “other 90%” in the world (at the “bottom of the pyramid.”)
- Better preparing US engineering students by innovative engineering curricula, and by improving the K-12 pipeline.
- Engaging all segments of the society to ensure a robust supply of talented engineering human resources.
- Communicating the relevance of engineering and avoiding erosion in technological leadership: “changing the conversation,” as articulated by the NAE and ASEE.
- Maintaining and enhancing US engineering global leadership.
For me, the highlight of the meeting was Dr. Charles M. Vest’s Main Plenary Address on “Engineering Education: Creating Opportunity in a Changing and Uncertain World.” Dr. Vest, President of the National Academy of Engineering, spoke about engineering education being at the core of America’s research universities, the general recognition that America’s economic growth and global competitiveness are increasingly being driven by advances in knowledge and that America’s engineering schools do and will continue to play a key role in the acceleration of scientific discovery and innovation.