The other re-engineering of engineering education, 1900-1965

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Many engineering colleges in the 1990s are busily revising the style and substance of engineering curricula to provide increased attention to design. The intent is to redress what many reformers see as an imbalance caused by too much emphasis on the analytical approaches of engineering science. In effect, current reforms are responding to changes made in American engineering colleges in the years immediately after World War II, when engineering curricula first fully embraced an analytical mode of engineering science. This paper examines how and why this earlier "re-engineering" of engineering education came to pass. It begins by summarizing the state of engineering education in the late 19th century. Then the paper discusses the role of European-born and educated engineers such as Stephen Timoshenko, Theodore von Kármán, and Harald Westergaard, who after 1920 prepared the ground for the later transformation of engineering curricula. The paper next discusses the efforts of leaders such as Solomon CadyHollister and Eric Walker to introduce changes after 1945, and concludes by noting how their initial visions of curricula based on engineering science were altered during implementation.

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Journal of Engineering Education