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Moving Forward to Improve Engineering Education
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nsb07122 Document Number: nsb07122
Author: National Science Board
Published: November 19, 2007
Keywords: Engineering Education, STEM Education, REU, IGERT, K-12, Economic Competitiveness
Available Formats: PDF
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Abstract
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It is widely recognized that our economy, national security, and indeed our everyday lives are increasingly dependent on scientific and technical innovation. Engineering is a key component of innovation and our technological society. There is a current high level of attention to engineering education from a variety of sources that have converged to make engineering education an especially timely topic for the Board to address. The Board decided it was timely to focus on improving engineering education, particularly with regard to the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s unique role in engineering research and education. The Board feels that a continuation of the status quo in engineering education in the U.S. is not sufficient in light of the pressing demands for change. This report focuses on the role of NSF in building on and disseminating these innovations in engineering education.


Executive Summary
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It is widely recognized that our economy, national security, and indeed our everyday lives are increasingly dependent on scientific and technical innovation. Engineering is a key component of innovation and our technological society. Changes on a global scale are rapidly occurring for engineering, and Federal leadership is needed to respond quickly and informatively. The National Science Board (Board) has issued several reports expressing concern about long-term trends that affect U.S. workforce capabilities in engineering, including the dependence on international students and workers; the declining interest on the part of U.S. citizens in engineering studies and careers; weakness in the K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education system; and demographic trends that are unfavorable to increasing citizen participation rates in these fields.

There is a current high level of attention to engineering education from a variety of sources that have converged to make engineering education an especially timely topic for the Board to address. In addition to the Board itself, these sources include the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) reports, The Engineer of 2020: Visions of Engineering in the New Century (2004) and Educating the Engineer of 2020: Adapting Engineering Education to the New Century (2005). They also include expressed concern of U.S. industry and the public sector in engineering capabilities in the workforce; and concern over the poor progress in broadening participation in engineering.

Based on the concerns expressed from these sources, the Board decided it was timely to focus on improving engineering education, particularly with regard to the National Science Foundation (NSF)'s unique role in engineering research and education. In fall 2005 and fall 2006, the Board sponsored two workshops with the goal of moving forward the national conversation on engineering issues by calling attention to how engineering education must change in light of changing workforce demographics and needs. The Board feels that a continuation of the status quo in engineering education in the U.S. is not sufficient in light of the pressing demands for change. The workshop participants included representatives from leading engineering schools, industry, government agencies, and engineering societies. The workshops focused on key challenges for engineering education, which include the changing global context for engineering education, perceptions and often misperceptions of engineering, and difficulty in attracting and retaining students in engineering. The workshops also identified many promising programs and strategies, including both successful NSF programs and innovative programs in engineering schools and elsewhere. This report focuses on the role of NSF in building on and disseminating these innovations in engineering education.


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nsb07114 A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System


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