Prototype to Production: Processes and Conditions for Preparing the Engineer of 2020

  • Lattuca, Lisa (PI)
  • Litzinger, Thomas (CoPI)
  • Walser, Ardie A.D. (CoPI)
  • Terenzini, Patrick P.T. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The objective of this proposal project is to assess the current capacity of undergraduate engineering programs to prepare the Engineer of 2020. The PIs propose a national survey of engineering students, graduates, faculty, and administrators from 30 carefully selected institutions to map the landscape of undergraduate engineering education and determine current levels of alignment between engineering program goals and the attributes associated with the Engineer of 2020. Students at three stages in the engineering education pipeline will be studied: before entrance to four-year college programs (i.e., two-year colleges), during college, and in the early years following completion of an undergraduate engineering program. The study will also scan an understudied sector of the engineering pipeline, surveying students in two-year colleges that prepare students for transfer to bachelor's programs. Studying both two- and four-year student populations will enable researchers to focus on students at different points in the pipeline and to explore if and how different aspects of engineering education influence students based on their gender, race/ethnicity, age, and socioeconomic status. Variations in student experiences and perceptions may affect how students learn engineering as well as decisions about whether to study engineering, whether to complete a degree, and whether, ultimately, to become an engineer.

To develop survey instruments, the PIs will conduct an extensive set of interviews with students, faculty members, administrators, and alumni at two universities and their associated two-year feeder colleges. These interviews will be designed to discover factors or forces that shape students' learning and their progress through the postsecondary pipeline, with particular attention to discovering factors currently overlooked or little understood in the current literature, such as students' out-of-class experiences, organizational structures and policies of engineering schools, the faculty culture in engineering programs, how students 'make meaning' of their coursework, and how they develop perceptions of what engineers do.

Effective start/end date2/1/061/31/11


  • National Science Foundation: $999,854.00


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