Purdue News

April 22, 2005

Purdue accepts national challenge to reform engineering education

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue will be the first university to offer graduate degrees in engineering education after recently receiving approval from the Indiana Commission for Higher Education to offer advanced degrees in this field.

This move, in conjunction with establishing Purdue's Department of Engineering Education last year, is a proactive effort to take the lead in engineering education reform. The advanced degrees include a master's of science, a master's of science in engineering education and a doctorate in this field.

"Engineering education is emerging as a discipline focused on providing a strong research base for guiding engineering practice, preparing expert engineering education practitioners and developing curriculum leaders in engineering education," said Purdue Provost Sally Mason. "These degrees help Purdue answer the national call for engineering education reform."

The Engineering Dean's Council, Corporate Roundtable of the American Society for Engineering Education, Board on Engineering Education of the National Research Council and the National Academy of Engineering are calling for national engineering education reform. These reforms include developing more broadly educated engineers who can assume leadership roles in technology development and encouraging the engineering profession to take steps to ensure a well-prepared, motivated and diverse K-12 pipeline of future engineering students.

"Purdue's engineering education graduate degrees require both coursework and demonstrated achievement of graduate competencies," said Linda Katehi, Purdue's John A. Edwardson Dean of Engineering. "The goal is to help each student develop the ability to create and synthesize knowledge, think critically and reflectively, master written and oral communication skills, and apply engineering education principles to solve instructional or curricular challenges."

Kamyar Haghighi, head of the Purdue Department of Engineering Education and a professor of agricultural and biological engineering, said the graduate degree programs will challenge students to address basic questions such as: What is the fundamental knowledge of engineering? How do we know if students have gained conceptual understanding of material? How do engineers learn in ways that are similar to, and different than, other disciplines?

"The answers to those questions and others will help create sustainable engineering education reform, but this reform requires long-term, calculated research-based investment that addresses the most fundamental issues of engineering education," Haghighi said. "This program, and others like it, will provide engineering education graduates with the knowledge and abilities needed for the challenges they will face in the 21st century."

Students completing the program can pursue careers in academia, business, government or foundations. Graduates also can be employed as professionals in K-12 educational systems working as educational specialists, consultants, directors of teaching and learning centers, and leaders of engineering diversity or outreach programs.

"The School of Education has been a strong collaborator and partner with the Department of Engineering Education," said George Hynd, dean of the Purdue College of Education and a professor of education studies. "This collaboration will integrate the educational concepts, teaching practices and courses of education with the concepts of engineering and will become an engineering education role model for the rest of the country."

Enrollment of 10 full-time graduate engineering education students is expected this fall with anticipated enrollment of more than 40 in the program within five years.

Future plans for the Purdue Department of Engineering Education, in collaboration with the College of Engineering and the College of Education, are to educate and certify high school teachers with an emphasis in engineering by 2007. Virginia Tech and Utah State University are developing similar engineering education programs.

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192, csequin@purdue.edu

Sources: Sally Mason, (765) 494-9709, sfmason@purdue.edu

Linda Katehi, (765) 494-5346, katehi@purdue.edu

George Hynd, (765) 494-2336, ghynd@purdue.edu

Kamyar Haghighi, (765) 494-3884, haghighi@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu


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