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Exploring the realities of professional practice: Implications for engineering education

Author: Alice Pawley
Event Date: January 24, 2008
Speaker: Llewellyn Mann
Speaker Affiliation: Department of Engineering Education, Purdue University
Time: 3:30-4:30
Location: ARMS B071
Contact Name: Alice Pawley
Contact Phone: 6-1209
Contact Email:
Open To: Faculty, students, staff

The professional practice of engineering is changing at an ever increasing rate. Recent books such as Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind and Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat have brought to our attention as educators the fact that the skills we are developing in our students don’t necessarily match up with those required in practice. Further, skills such as sustainable design and the ability to work cross-disciplinarily, not just with other engineers, are often so new they have yet to be included in most engineering programs. How do we as engineering educators link engineering practice with engineering education? Further, how do we ensure that the skills that we are developing in our students not only are what industry want, but will allow them to operate in an ever changing future?

In this session I will present work conducted thus far on linking engineering practice with engineering education. Specifically my research is focused around understanding how practice is experienced by practitioners, and what this can tell us about developing authentic learning opportunities for our students to develop particular professional skills. Sustainable design and cross-disciplinary practice are two such skills that I have explored so far, and will be discussed in the session. I will also present a plan for future research, and facilitate a discussion around the sorts of skills that students will require and how best to link their practice with education.