The nation’s engineering schools are using outdated educational practices that focus too heavily on imparting technical knowledge and do not do enough to prepare undergraduate students for the profession, according to a new report issued by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
The report, “Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field,” argues that, in the midst of worldwide transformation of the engineering profession, undergraduate engineering programs in the United States continue to approach problem-solving and knowledge acquisition in an outdated manner. Moreover, engineering programs’ solution to improving the education they offer has been simply to add more courses, rather than reconsidering the design of their programs.
Instead of having a “jam-packed curriculum focused on technical knowledge,” engineering programs should be doing more to help students develop analytical reasoning, practical skills, and professional judgment, the report says.
“We are calling for a new model that will involve fundamentally rethinking the role and even the makeup of the faculty,” Sheri D. Sheppard, a co-author of the report who directed a long-term study of engineering education for the foundation, said in a written statement issued today.
“Among other things, the new model gives more importance to teachers and researchers who are sympathetic to professional concerns and have some interest in them,” Ms. Sheppard said.
“Educating Engineers” is the third in a series of reports on professional education issued by Carnegie’s Preparation for the Professions Program, which is conducting two- or three-year studies of training in various fields. The program also has issued reports on the preparation of lawyers and members of the Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish clergy, and it plans in the coming months to issue reports on the preparation of nurses and physicians. —Peter Schmidt