Why Engineering Education?
The field of engineering is constantly changing – influenced by the emergence of new technologies, as well as advancements in practice and methodology. In a field defined by change, engineering educators play an essential role preparing students for the challenges they will face and helping practicing engineers stay current.
Purdue’s online Master of Science in Engineering Education gives professionals who have an engineering background a new way of seeing the field by providing them with the tools they need to become effective and engaging engineering educators. The program covers the theory and practice of engineering education and gives students hands-on experience working with teaching mentors on developing courses.
Why Engineering Education?
Transitioning from engineering practice to education is a big jump for many professional engineers, but engineering educators play a crucial role in shaping the future of the field. According to the National Science Foundation, the United States is falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math. On average, American children are scoring lower on science and math tests than children in other countries, and this trend continues all the way to college – where only 40% of first-year STEM majors complete their degree programs.
Engineering educators can help reverse these trends and secure a strong engineering and technology workforce for the future. A good engineering education is linked to better outcomes for students and for the world as a whole. Engineering graduates make significant contributions to health care, national security, resource management, and many other fields. In this way, engineering educators are highly influential.
Who is this degree for?
Audeen Fentiman, professor in engineering education and in environmental and ecological engineering at Purdue University, describes Purdue’s Master’s in Engineering Education as being designed for three audiences: Engineering professionals who want to teach fellow practitioners about advancements and emergent trends in engineering; current graduate students who want to pursue teaching at the college level and current faculty who want to improve their teaching; and engineering professionals who are considering changing careers to pursue teaching.
The first audience, engineering professionals who want to train employees, may be new to teaching and looking to learn the foundations of being an educator. Purdue’s engineering education master’s, as well as Purdue’s graduate certificate in Teaching and Learning in Engineering, meets these professionals where they are by providing training in the foundations of engineering education, as well as giving students hands-on experience developing educational content, assessments, and other teaching materials.
“Most engineering professionals called upon to teach others will teach as they were taught,” said Fentiman. “I think most of them will tell you that many of their classes weren’t as engaging or effective as they could have been. The courses in the master’s degree in engineering education cover proven, research-based techniques for developing and delivering instructional materials that hold learners’ interest and result in better retention of the material.”
The second audience, graduate students and university faculty, likely already have some teaching experience, but want to improve their teaching or prepare themselves to teach at the university level in the future. Purdue’s program serves these students by giving them a strong theoretical background in engineering education and allowing them to work closely with experienced engineering education faculty.
“Doctoral students in engineering are typically focused on their research and almost never receive formal instruction in teaching,” said Fentiman. “But as new faculty members, they are expected to teach on day one. The online master's in engineering education prepares them for teaching duties, reducing stress on the new faculty member and providing better outcomes for their students.”
The third audience, engineering professionals who want to transition to teaching careers, already have knowledge of the engineering field, but they may lack teaching experience. Purdue’s program serves these students by giving them hands-on experience with a teaching mentor who can show them the ropes of managing their own classrooms. The program also offers a course that helps engineers explore alternative career paths in teaching.
“Some engineers with years of practical experience are eager to teach full- or part-time, sharing what they have learned and encouraging newcomers to pursue technical careers,” said Fentiman. “The online master's degree in engineering education allows them to build their teaching skills and learn about current classroom technology while continuing their engineering career. The degree can also make them more competitive when applying for a teaching position.”
Purdue’s online MS in Engineering Education is a highly customizable degree program that can meet many professional goals. Students design their plan of study based around their career objectives and can complete courses on a flexible schedule while still pursuing a full-time job or other graduate studies. Engineering education graduates have the unique opportunity to shape the future of engineering by inspiring a new generation of engineers to make an impact in their fields and the world.
To learn more about Purdue’s online master’s in engineering education, please visit the program’s website.