Engineer of 2020

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Committee on Engineering Education (CEE) completed a two-phase vision-casting initiative on engineering in the future and educating engineers to meet the needs of the new era.

Phase I
The first phase of the project, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century, engaged a diverse group of stakeholders to the engineering enterprise in a series of activities to gather facts, forecast future conditions, and develop future scenarios of the possible world conditions for the 2020 engineer. The phase one initiative revealed several creative visions of engineering's future, and engaged the participation of key constituent groups, including young people, practicing engineers, and industry and government employers. The phase one report was released on May 17, 2004.

To enhance the nation’s economic productivity and improve the quality of life worldwide, engineering education in the United States must anticipate and adapt to the dramatic changes of engineering practice. The Engineer of 2020 urges the engineering profession to recognize what engineers can build for the future through a wide range of leadership roles in industry, government, and academia not just through technical jobs. Engineering schools should attract the best and brightest students and be open to new teaching and training approaches. With the appropriate education and training, the engineer of the future will be called upon to become a leader not only in business but also in nonprofit and government sectors.

The book finds that the next several decades will offer more opportunities for engineers, with exciting possibilities expected from nanotechnology, information technology, and bioengineering. Other engineering applications, such as transgenic food, technologies that affect personal privacy, and nuclear technologies, raise complex social and ethical challenges. Future engineers must be prepared to help the public consider and resolve these dilemmas along with challenges that will arise from new global competition, requiring thoughtful and concerted action if engineering in the United States is to retain its vibrancy and strength.

Phase I Project Links:


Phase II
The second phase of the project built on the phase I visions of engineering to develop strategies and concrete plans for engineering education. A national summit of current and emerging leaders in engineering education was convened to outline a strategy for ensuring the currency and vitality of 21st century engineering education. The agenda included a renewal of curricular and delivery models, and a reassessment of institutional policies that will affect the growth and development of engineering professionals.

Educating the Engineer of 2020Educating the Engineer of 2020 is grounded by the observations, questions, and conclusions presented in the best-selling book The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century. This book offers recommendations on how to enrich and broaden engineering education so graduates are better prepared to work in a constantly changing global economy. It notes the importance of improving recruitment and retention of students and making the learning experience more meaningful to them. It also discusses the value of considering changes in engineering education in the broader context of enhancing the status of the engineering profession and improving the public understanding of engineering. Although certain basics of engineering will not change in the future, the explosion of knowledge, the global economy, and the way engineers work will reflect an ongoing evolution. If the United States is to maintain its economic leadership and be able to sustain its share of high-technology jobs, it education system must prepare for and lead this wave of change.

Phase II Project Links:

Project Sponsors
The Engineer of 2020 Phase I was sponsored by The National Science Foundation, SBC Foundation, NEC Foundation of America, and the National Academy of Engineering

The Engineer of 2020 Phase II is being sponsored by the National Science Foundation, Hewlett Packard Company, Microsoft Corporation, the GE Foundation, and the National Academy of Engineering.