We work with many academic organizations around the globe. We recently updated our strategic affiliations web page to note the ones we work closest with. I want to highlight one of those organizations today through a Q&A with one of its leaders.
The International Federation of Engineering Education Societies (IFEES) works to establish effective engineering education. Hans J. Hoyer, Ph.D., is the secretary general of IFEES and resident scholar in Global Engineering at Marquette University.
Tell us about yourself and your role at Marquette.
“Previously I directed international programs and strategy for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) as well as other organizations dealing with global issues including my role as CEO of World Links, a World Bank founded organization. I came to Marquette four months ago as the school looked to expand its international footprint. I work closely with our dean and some faculty of engineering. At ASEE I worked with corporate colleagues and engineering educators globally to improve engineering education. Today, in addition to my role at IFEES, I also serve as executive secretary of the Global Engineering Deans Council (GEDC). Both IFEES and GEDC grew out of ASEE’s experience and that of colleagues globally. Now I serve both organizations from the Secretariat here at Marquette.”
What are the issues right now in engineering education?
“It’s clear we do not have an adequate supply of globally prepared engineers. We face issues in recruiting and retaining student engineers as well as in providing strong industry-aligned curriculum.
“As a social scientist, I see the need for increased communication on who engineers are and what value they provide. It’s a deep challenge but one we have to address to attract bright minds to the field. In addition to this recruiting issue, the profession also faces motivation and retention issues in most countries. Many female students feel alienated and leave after the first year of study.
“Another issue is the gap between the curriculum colleges provide and needs of industry. We find only a small percent of engineering graduates are properly trained at the level companies need. We have to have stronger ties between academia and industry. Fortunately this is becoming an increasingly important topic of discussion. For example, we see in India huge resources being spent on training graduates (after they graduate) so they can better meet industry needs. We have to address this with stronger curriculum and industry-trained professors. We find many professors have no practical experience so they need to work with industry partners to spend a year in a company.”
What were some of the new approaches in engineering education discussed at the recent World Engineering Education Forum?
“We are in the midst of a project called ‘attributes of a global engineer’ because it is clear that global competence needs to be a key qualification for engineering graduates. Global preparation must move beyond ‘add on’ programs and be immersed in students’ study, work and research.
“Industry partnerships are important to improving the link between academia and industries. We must develop opportunities for students to practice engineering in a global context, whether through on-site employment, virtual involvement in global engineering projects or other experiential opportunities. It’s one of the ‘ah-ha’ moments at our events, when the right connection creates a new opportunity for collaboration.”
Tell us about some of the awards given at the event.
“We were pleased to give out awards recognizing the creative talent in global engineering education. Together with Siemens, we presented President’s Awards to Claudio Borri, professor of Computational Mechanics of Structures, at the University of Florence (Italy) for Global Visioning and Collaboration. Professor Borri was the first president of IFEES and a past-president of SEFI. We also recognized Professor YU Shouwen, an engineering professor and leader at Tsinghua University and a member of the Education Committee of Chinese Academy of Engineering, for Pioneering National Leadership.
Pictured above are Claudio Borri of the University of Florence and Hulas King of Siemens PLM Software.
In the background are Dr. Krishna Vedula, president of IFEES and Hans Hoyer.
“We also gave Siemens the Reaching For Excellence award for its leadership, support and consultation in engineering education and accreditation. Siemens has been and continues to be an important partner of IFEES given our mutual commitment to strengthening engineering education at a global level. Their creative ideas, strong encouragement and professionalism are critical to help improve engineering education and develop the next generation of engineers.”
Share any comments you have about issues and solutions in engineering education.