ASEE 2011 Vancouver Conference

Taking Stock:  Progress toward Educating the Next Generation of Engineers

Aerial view of Vancouver, BC

Purdue was pleased to sponsor several events at the  2011 ASEE Annual Conference in Vancouver BC, all focused on progress toward achieving the aim of adapting engineering education to the new realities of the 21st Century world.

Before the conference, a survey collected information about how universities worldwide define the "Future Engineer." It also aimed to uncover challenges and success factors that should be considered in order to effectively and sustainably integrate the ideals of the "Future Engineer" into curriculum.

The presentation that was given at the conference summarized the survey results. It is a very preliminary assessment of the results of the survey.  More details will be forthcoming.


The world economy is changing and the engineering profession is evolving to keep up. The way we make new engineers must change accordingly.

In response to these and other pressures, many schools have undertaken to make changes in the way new engineers are made. For example:

  • In 2005, Purdue initiated what is now called the “Purdue Engineer of 2020” project, which has largely been focused on curricular content.  
  • The University of Illinois along with Olin College partnered in its “Engineer of the Future” program, which is focused on innovation in delivery mode and student engagement. 
  • MIT instituted a sweeping change in approach in its CDIO program, which has found followers all over the world.

Many other schools have undertaken similar projects with a variety of scope and focus. One of the goals of the above questionnaire is to make a better accounting of these efforts.


It is time that we take stock of where we are, what has worked, what has not worked, and what remains to be tried. It is with that goal in mind that Purdue hosted the following activities in Vancouver:

  • workshop focused on helping faculty incorporate nontraditional content into existing curriculum.
  • Two sessions of roundtable discussions.: One focused  on primarily undergraduate programs, the other on research focused institutions.
  • Reception for all participants.