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The Engineering Education Transformation
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela
As an engineering company we are always interested in the advancements of engineering educations from grade school through college. USA Today recently shared an article “Teaching for the Future: Engineers Pursue Big Projects” and in it we get a glimpse into the evolving world of an engineering education. When many of us were in school, the focus was on lectures, hypothetical issues and calculus problems, but today we are starting to see education evolve into hands-on activity and real world solutions. “Taking young engineers out of lecture halls and instead having them practice their profession represents the cutting edge in reshaping the discipline.” (We can’t help but think how this kind of transformation could be carried over into all STEM disciplines.)
“We have done a miserable job, by and large, of explaining just how engineering is essential and can change the world,” says National Academy of Engineering chief Charles Vest. In a nutshell, he says, that helps explain why only about 4.5% of U.S. college graduates are engineers, Vest says, while about 12% are in Europe and 21% are in Asia. “This is an idealistic generation, despite everything going on in the economy, and they want to help people,” Vest says. “We have to get them out of the lecture hall and show them how engineers do just that.”
This past summer, Duke engineering students went to Bolivia to build a 213-foot-long steel pedestrian bridge by hand, to link two impoverished villages long separated by a deep gorge. The Duke engineering program takes their program even further by emphasizing teamwork and entrepreneurship in the curriculum in addition to the hands-on solutions. “We need people who think differently, people who are creative, people who make things, people who can work in teams, not just alone on a computer.”
Our 3D Innovations & 3D Academy team would like to applaud the schools that have seen the need to transform traditional engineering educations to meet the changing needs of students and society.