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Engineering an education for the future

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2 Author(s)
Lee, E.A. ; California Univ., Berkeley, CA, USA ; Messerschmitt, D.G.

Faced with rapid and unremitting change in the disciplines of electrical and computer engineering (ECE), some educators argue that they should deliberately not respond aggressively. Rather, educators should focus on fundamentals that will serve the students well for an entire career. Although the authors agree, they go on to explain that this approach largely begs the question of what those fundamentals are. Of course, it is desirable to impart all feasible fundamentals, but that seems impossible given the expanding breadth of knowledge required in the ECE field. Thus, the question this article addresses is: What are the fundamental skills and knowledge that are important for a future career in ECE? What should be the educational priorities? The authors believe that the center of gravity of most undergraduate curricula today is too far on the side of attempting to train the small cadre of technical experts, a hopeless task within a four- or five-year program. The authors advocate an alternative vision in which the undergraduate program focuses on a limited and carefully chosen set of core ideas, supplemented by real-world examples and importantly by student self-exploration and learning. Such an undergraduate program also emphasizes breadth, an exposure to a range of technical issues, as well as mathematics, science, humanities and social sciences. After the undergraduate experience, the students divide themselves into several groups: one group chooses to leave with an undergraduate degree; a second group stays for a master's degree; while the third group stays for a doctorate

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:31 ,  Issue: 1 )

Date of Publication:

Jan 1998

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