Not everyone applauded in 2011 when the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness declared a national goal of graduating 10,000 more engineers a year—a jump of 11.6 percent. As Prism reported at the time, skeptics felt the labor market couldn’t absorb that many new graduates without depressing salaries and questioned whether engineering schools had sufficient faculty and facilities to cope. But a number of deans were getting a different message from a surge in applicants and demand from employers. “We were the bottleneck,” says M. Katherine Banks, Texas A&M University’s engineering dean. By now, the challenge from the President’s Council seems modest, even quaint. Last year, according to ASEE’s survey, the nation’s engineering and computer science programs awarded 117,229 bachelor’s degrees—up from 85,770 in 2011. Yes, capacity was a problem, but universities across the country are responding with major expansions, opening up new space for imaginative teaching and cross-disciplinary research. Others are starting engineering programs from scratch. Our cover story, “Building Boom,” highlights some notable examples.
One of the keys to producing more graduates is improved retention, and engineering schools are discovering new ways to accomplish that. Many have instituted academic early-alert systems intended to help foundering students get back on track before it’s too late. As important as email warnings are the kudos when a student does well and personalized guidance from instructors. Mary Lord’s “Heads Up!” gives an in-depth look at this fascinating use of learning analytics.
Tom Grose’s “No Barriers Here” explores an increasingly important topic drowned out by the noisy debate over U.S.-Mexican relations. That issue is the hundreds of ongoing research and education collaborations—often involving engineering academics and students—that link American and Mexican universities, agencies, and businesses.
Our expanded ASEE Today section contains Louis Martin-Vega’s final president’s letter as well as highlights of the ASEE’s 124th Annual Conference and Exposition June 25 – 28 in Columbus, Ohio. We hope to see you there.
This issue’s excerpt from the Journal of Engineering Education—JEE Selects—is the last provided by Michael Loui, who steps down as editor this summer. We’ll miss Michael’s editorial skills, professionalism, and courtesy, and look forward to working with his successor, Lisa Benson.
Correction: Due to an editing error, co-author Naresh Devineni’s name was omitted from the byline of the March-April Discovery column. The column also mentioned climate “change,” whereas the author was referring to climate variability.