The need for change in undergraduate engineering education is not new but it is urgent as interest in engineering careers in the United States remains low even as global Grand Challenges become even more apparent. Washington Roebling, the chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge, wrote about his RPI (one of the best engineering schools then and now) education ‘that the terrible treadmill of forcing an avalanche of figures and facts into young brains not qualified to assimilate them…I am still busy trying to forget the heterogeneous mass of unusable knowledge that I could only memorize…’ A key outcome of changing undergraduate engineering education is to prepare students who recognize societal needs, design solutions that address more than feasibility and engage in creative enterprises. Speaking in engineering terms, changing an educational system requires energy infusion because of dissipative resistive forces rooted in attitudes, culture and values. Focus on changing the direction of these forces needs to be the priority. The talk will include some observations on changing undergraduate curricula and the changing role of faculty, including examples from the Olin College of Engineering, to stimulate discussion on how those of us engaged in and affected by engineering education can work to co-create learning constructs and innovation ecosystems appropriate for the 21st Century.
VINCENT (Vin) P. MANNO is Provost and Dean of Faculty, as well as Professor of Engineering, at the Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA. He received a BS from Columbia University and MS, Engineer's and Doctor of Science degrees from M.I.T. His fields of interest are thermal-fluid sciences, power generation, electronics thermal management and engineering education. He has authored or co-authored over 150 journal articles and technical publications. Prior to joining Olin, he was Associate Provost and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University. He has also worked in the private sector and served as a U.S. Navy Senior Summer Faculty Fellow. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and the recipient of SAE’s Ralph R. Teetor Educational Award, the Harvey Rosten Award for Excellence in the Thermal Analysis of Electronic Equipment, the ASME Curriculum Innovation Award, the Fischer Award as Tufts Engineering Teacher of the Year, and the Simches Award for Distinguished Teaching and Advising. He sits on the advisory boards of Ashesi University (Ghana), the University of Delaware College of Engineering and the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education Outreach.