Accelerating the Transformation of Engineering Education

Posted by Ed Morrison on May 14, 2015, in Strategic Doing.

Our nation’s long term competitiveness depends in large part on preparing a globally competitive STEM workforce. At the center of this challenge stands our universities that train students in engineering and engineering technology. A number of national reports have closely tied undergraduate engineering education to our nation’s long term competitiveness.

In the last two years, PCRD has become deeply engaged in the process of transforming engineering education. As schools of engineering become more adept at teaching the skills valued by employers — collaboration, innovation, creativity, communication — the companies and regional economies that these universities support will grow stronger. PCRD is already working with Stanford and VentureWell to transform the undergraduate engineering programs at 37 universities.

In addition, the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), the nation’s premier association for engineering educators, has turned to Strategic Doing as a process to move the organization to the next level of its development. We have used the process to generate a first version of the Strategic Action Plan for the association. Unlike traditional strategic planning, this agile process is more like software development. We generate ideas quickly and move them to testing.

So, in New Orleans in late February, we conducted a strategy session and identified four areas of strategic focus. Within each area, we began the process of outlining both measurable outcomes and initiatives to move the organization toward those outcomes. In consulting with members, we learned that ASEE’s highly complex structure left many members feeling adrift.

At the annual meeting in Seattle in June, we are launching a number of small experiments to make it easier for members to connect to other members with similar interests. In addition, we are exploring how ASEE can support university-based teams engaged in the transformation of their undergraduate engineering education. Over the long term, we will be working with the DC-based organization to train professional staff in the disciplines of agile strategy.