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Is industrial experience necessary for teaching engineering?

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1 Author(s)
Gupta, M.S. ; Hughes Aircraft Co., Torrance, CA, USA

The author examines the suggestion that all engineering faculty should have a substantial amount of industrial work experience. The arguments given to support the suggestion are classified into five categories, depending on the shortcoming that the suggestion is meant to correct. These shortcomings are: lack of practice in real-life problem solving among newly graduated engineers; inadequacy in curriculum for broad, management, and specialized work; a bias towards research in faculty selection; inability of academics to develop creativity and other attributes needed in industrial work; and lack of a strong sense of professionalism among engineers. Each of the sets of arguments is analyzed to: (1) isolate the source of the problem for which faculty industrial experience is being proposed as a solution; and (2) determine if, and how, that problem will be solved if the engineering faculty are indeed required to have industrial experience. The author concludes that some of the problems are the result of unrealistic expectations, and others are inherent in the nature of any limited-duration, university-based instruction. He feels that imposing an industrial experience requirement for faculty would address few of these problems. The author summarizes some suggested changes that address the problems identified

Published in:

Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:31 ,  Issue: 1 )