Resource Review: New Engineering Education Journal Club

JEE article screenshot From the National Academy of Engineering to our own college, people are talking about engineering education. Leaders from academia, industry, and government agree that the context of engineering has changed. Technological advances, an upsurge in interdisciplinary research and practice, and the globalization of the workforce have combined with emerging environmental, public health, and policy issues to alter the ways in which engineers practice their trade. Leaders in the public and private sectors are left wondering how educational practices should change in response to these shifts in the engineering landscape.

This quandry raises many other questions, questions to which faculty, college administrators, industry leaders, and government officials bring diverse perspectives: What is the purpose of an engineering degree? How do students learn to be engineers? How can we effectively teach students from diverse backgrounds? How can colleges recruit and retain students in an engineering major?

To facilitate discussion of these questions, the Engineering Learning Center has launched a monthly brownbag journal club where faculty, academic staff, and others can come together to discuss the practice of teaching. Each month, ELC staff will select one or two recent articles on engineering education to serve as a jumping off point for the discussion.

At a November lunch meeting, faculty from several departments gathered to discuss the challenges of teaching in the twenty-first century. They used editorials from leaders in engineering education and industry as a starting point. The discussion ranged from the relevance of multidisciplinary projects to the role of engineering in addressing current social and environmental issues.

"We can give the students the experience of a multidisciplinary project, but do we know what we want them to learn and how we would assess that?" asked one participant.

Another participant highlighted the rapid evolution of knowledge. "The web changes every three months, maybe we need courses to become more agile," she noted. "But, it's a lot of work. You have to understand the context you're working in."

The journal club meets the second Monday of every month from noon to one in the Engineering Learning Center (M1012 Engineering Centers Building, 1550 Engineering Drive). For more information and links to articles, visit the club's website or contact Kevin Anderson.

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For more information about the ideas in this article:

1) Journal of Engineering Education

Published by ASEE, the Journal of Engineering Education is a widely read research journal in the field of engineering education. Most journal club readings come from this publication.