The Engagement of Engineering Societies in Undergraduate Engineering Education

Project Status
In Progress
May 08, 2019
National Science Foundation
Project Sponsor
National Science Foundation
Other Related Resources
Key Contacts
  • Kenan Jarboe
    Senior Program Officer, Manufacturing, Design, and Innovation
    National Academy of Engineering

Professional engineering societies can play an important role in building the capacity of the field. This goal is often approached through efforts to improve and make more accessible the educational opportunities available to those in or wishing to gain entry to the profession. Among many roles, professional engineering societies may provide continuing education opportunities to their members, set and maintain professional standards, help clarify the knowledge and skill base needed by those practicing in the field, and serve as a bridge between employers and schools of engineering. These efforts, along with those by industry, federal agencies, and institutions of higher education, help build and sustain a viable engineering workforce.

This National Science Foundation-funded project takes an in-depth look at the extent and nature of professional engineering societies’ contributions to improving the quality and effectiveness of US undergraduate engineering education. The project also provides an opportunity for the societies and other stakeholders, such as universities and industry, to share their insights, learn what others are doing, make new contacts, and scope out possible collaborations.

The first phase of the project involved data collection and analysis. This included a literature review of the relevant research and a staff analysis of information on engineering societies’ websites about what they are doing in undergraduate engineering education. The core of this phase of the project was a survey of engineering societies with follow-up interviews to gain a better understanding the societies’ undergraduate education activities.

The analysis served a background for a national workshop on January 26 and 27, 2017. Over 80 academics and engineering societies officials came together to discuss issues and share ideas on undergraduate engineering education. Discussions were kicked off by 22 “lightning” presentations from 14 societies highlighting their educational programs and activities. Proceedings of that workshop were published in December.

In the next phase, the project will conduct a series of regional meetings based on topic identified as important in the workshop. The first of these was held on September 18, 2017 at the University of Southern California to explore the possibility of a competition for undergraduate students based on the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering. A Proceedings – In Brief summarizing the discussions was published in February.

The second in this series of follow-up workshops was held February 12, 2018 on the campus of Georgia Tech to explore how engineering societies may help define and articulate the concept of faculty impact as part of the faculty recruitment and evaluation process. A summary Proceedings of the discussions was published in July.

The third meeting took place on June 4 at the University of Cincinnati. This workshop examined societies’ programs and activities to support diversity and inclusion, provided an opportunity for them to share promising practices, and investigated possible collaborative actions. A Proceedings – In Brief summarizing the discussions was published in December 2018.

The final workshop explored how engineering societies can help better align engineering education with the needs of industry. The meeting was held on December 6 at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington DC. A Summary Proceedings – In Brief is now available.