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Distinguished Speaker Series 2021 – Public Talk

March 26, 2021 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT

The Institute for Engineering Education & Innovation at Texas A&M University invites you to join our 2021 Distinguished Speaker Series scheduled to be held on March 26, 2021 from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm via Zoom.

Dr. Sheryl Sorby will be giving a public talk on “Engineering Education at a Crossroads—Getting There from Here

Date: 26th March 2021

Time: 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm

Zoom Link: tx.ag/speakerseriespublictalk

Abstract: In response to Sputnik, the sweeping Grinter Report changed the face of engineering education. Prior to the 1950s, engineering education had been primarily an apprenticeship-like profession. Students learned mostly by doing. However, in the space race of the last century, engineering was deemed “not theoretical enough” and mathematics, science, and modeling took on prominent roles in the education of engineers. This shift, to a solid foundation in theory, allowed us to land on the moon, develop the microprocessors that fuel our economy, and myriad other advances that improve our lives. There have been unintended consequences, though. Our curriculum is now overly rigid. We have become elitists. Engineering does not appeal to broad swaths of our population. We have become skilled at cloning ourselves. The curriculum that worked for us 40-50 years ago, surely must work for everyone?

When engineers become faculty, they seem to forget that they are engineers. We tell our students: “Every product can be optimized by making changes to the design. Bodies that are overly rigid will ultimately fail. There is more than one correct solution to any problem. It is important to know the properties of the available materials so that you can use those to their ultimate capacity.” But. What do we say when we are talking about our “product,” i.e., our curriculum? We must do this because this is the way we have always done things. There is only one pathway to an engineering career. If someone is not attracted to engineering, it must be their fault. We are ok with our overly rigid, cookie-cutter curriculum that is based on the students we wish we had rather than the students we actually have. We are, in fact, being bad engineers.

In this talk, she will present her pathway into engineering education research and some of her significant research findings to date. She will then discuss the engineering education she foresees for the future and the establishment of an ASEE Task Force to re-imagine engineering education.

Please contact [email protected] for more information.


March 26, 2021
3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT