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Engineering schools need to reinvent themselves | THE CAMPUS Learn, Share, Connect

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Long before the pandemic began, US universities were already on the brink of crisis. population cliffOver the past decade, the number of students enrolled in tertiary education has fallen by nearly three million. But business is booming in the country’s engineering departments.Number of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees awarded more than 2 times For the last 20 years.

It sounds like a great opportunity to become an ‘E’ in STEM, but past performance is no guarantee of future results. Engineering faculties, like many other academic disciplines, face an increasing number of unique challenges. A new crack is forming in the candidate pipeline, and fixing it may be beyond the skill sets of even the best engineers.

The sharp drop in international student enrollment points to a potentially sinister trend in engineering enrollment.from 2011-2016, most of the growth in graduate engineering programs was fueled by an increase in foreign students.Students from India, China and other countries earned more than half PhDs awarded in engineering and computer science in 2019.

However, the international application to the Faculty of Engineering dropped dramatically International registration for such programs in full and in the United States in 2021 in decline Due to the pandemic and changes in visa rules.Engineering programs cannot rely To enhance the graduate program, it is based solely on the enrollment of international students.

To ensure continued viability and competitiveness, engineering schools must not only repair existing pipelines to STEM education and career success, but also build new pipelines. With declining enrollment and growing skepticism about higher education in general, many universities are getting serious about their degree programs – what they should offer, how they should offer them, what a degree should look like. I am considering it. This internal self-assessment is essential to determine the viability of any engineering program and to look for opportunities to enhance or add new programs to meet employee needs. A visionary engineering must join this self-his scouting effort.

First and foremost, increasing diversity in the STEM talent pipeline is imperative.of numbers are tough: According to the American Association of Engineering Education, only 23% of engineering graduates in 2020 were women, and only 15.5% were an underrepresented minority. Clearly, that’s not enough. Engineering schools must work with greater urgency to remove the barriers that have kept women, people of color, and other historically excluded students out of engineering schools.

From ineffective college advice, of course, unequal access Advanced Placement courses in Mathematics and Computer Science help you solve problems that engineering programs can’t.But these schools can We work with local high schools and community colleges to find and recruit a diverse array of often-overlooked talent to prepare them for demanding engineering coursework.

When I was director of admissions for the University of Miami School of Engineering, we created a series of community college transfer partnerships to deepen our reach to public colleges and universities across Florida and offer four-year engineering degrees to a more diverse group. made a way to student.

Similarly, admissions leaders in STEM programs can do more. Comprehensive review We consider the applicant’s passion and aptitude, along with the applicant’s grades and test scores. Once students are enrolled, engineering departments must support them academically, financially, and socially. Our on-the-ball Career Services Office ensures that every engineering student understands what they can do after graduation and how to get there.

In addition to emphasizing diversity, equity and inclusiveness, universities must start welcoming students with more diverse academic backgrounds, not just those who studied engineering as undergraduates. For example, a student with an undergraduate business degree may be a strong candidate for a master’s degree in industrial engineering if an engineering department incorporates prerequisite courses into its graduate program.

For many programs, it may be time to re-evaluate their core curriculum and course requirements to differentiate the value of master’s and doctoral programs. Engineering degrees are different, and the educational pathways and prerequisites leading to these degrees should look and feel different.

By looking beyond their own silos, engineering schools and other programs help students acquire valuable skills and competencies in other fields. For example, dual-degree engineering and MBA programs can produce data-savvy engineers who bring technical problem-solving skills to the corporate world where data analysis, data management, and data security are paramount. increase. Similarly, working with architecture schools prepares engineers for careers in construction management.

Engineering programs should also incorporate flexibility.We already have a growing number of programs – some inspired by Georgia Tech 1-Year Online Master’s Degree in Computer Science – Investing in affordable online degree programs that can better meet the needs of working adults and their employers. Engineering programs at private research universities such as Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Mellon are building short-term, stackable qualifications that are more attractive to potential master’s students who are employed during their studies.

Finally, it is not enough for engineering programs to produce graduates with strong technical competencies and skills. New engineering graduates must enter the field with greater empathy for the uniquely human challenges they encounter in the workplace, such as cultural diversity, communication, teamwork, and conflict management. These are skills that companies are increasingly in need of. I want However, it is not always central to traditional engineering curricula.

For higher education institutions, change is not always easy or quick, especially when it comes to long-established practices in admissions and program design. But at the end of the day, engineers are problem solvers. Perhaps engineering schools are uniquely poised to solve some of higher education’s most pressing issues of accessibility, diversity, and career outcomes.

David Poole is Vice President of Enrollment Management Solutions for EngineeringCAS at Liaison International.

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