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The Role of Baccalaureate Programs in Engineering Technology

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Four year baccalaureate degree programs in engineering technology have emerged since the mid 1960's. Graduates were expected to occupy positions between the craftsman and engineer and be called "technologist." By the early 1970's it became clear that many employers were ignoring such definitions. Many graduates became registered as professional engineers and most acquired positions with the title "engineer." Unlike the two year associate degree programs, considerable confusion has developed in industry and among educators concerning the role to be played by the four year programs and their graduates. Much of the confusion results from an idealistic view of the working world that does not recognize the realities of engineering practice. A survey is described in which engineering graduates were questioned about their engineering employment and their need for certain subject matter contained in the technical curricula. Mathematics was used as a principal indicator since it is a characteristic prominent in distinguishing the engineering programs from those in engineering technology. Results of the survey strongly suggest that the mathematics emphasis characterizing engineering technology could have been appropriate for a majority of graduates in their engineering positions. Discussion concludes that it is probable that a majority of engineers in industrial assignments may be performing as defined for "technologists." It is proposed that it is realistic to redefine the baccalaureate engineering technology degree as a legitimate alternate route to positions with the title "engineer."

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Education, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:20 ,  Issue: 4 )