Friday, June 26, 2015

Watered-Down Gen Ed for Engineers?

Inside Higher Ed
June 26th, 2015

What have long set U.S.-trained engineers apart from their global peers -- at least in the minds of lots of employers -- are their softer skills. While universities in many other countries focus almost entirely on technical mastery, American engineering programs also stress the development of additional competencies, such as critical thinking, writing and the ability to work across disciplines and in diverse settings.
And that hasn’t been an accident. For years, the major undergraduate and master's-level engineering program accreditor, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, or ABET, has made these outcomes part of its standards. So proposed changes designed to streamline those standards are worrying some faculty members, who say they’ll inevitably narrow American engineers’ skills set -- and therefore take away their competitive edge. But ABET argues that the changes will benefit the discipline over all, by making less opaque the process of assessing some of these outcomes and by encouraging innovation in teaching.

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