A West Virginia University engineering professor has co-authored an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education that addresses the ways in which American higher education needs to change for the United States to remain competitive in the global economy.
David Martinelli, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in WVU s College of Engineering and Mineral Resources co-authoredHolistic Engineeringwith Domenico Grasso, dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematics at the University of Vermont. The article, which appears in the March 16 issue, examines technology-oriented disciplines such as engineering.
The Chronicle of Education is a national weekly newspaper that focuses on current topics in higher education and is widely read by a broad spectrum of educators.
Engineering and technical education are very much in the public eye,said Martinelli.Congress has been debating how to best respond to the National Academy of Engineering report, �€~Rising Above the Gathering Storm,which concludes that our scientific and technical leadership in the world is waning as other nations are gaining. The common recommendation, which we do not dispute, is that our nation must increase its investment in research and education in technical disciplines.
The point that we want to make in this article; however, is that we need to not just know how we can produce more engineers, but also how those engineers should be educated so that they can rise above the global competition,Martinelli added.It is a qualitative question, not just a quantitative one.
Martinelli and Grasso conclude that if American engineers are to rise above the global competition, they must expand their knowledge outside the traditional scientific and quantitative disciplines so that they can approach problems with a broader frame of reference. This would involve an increased emphasis in the curriculum on communication and critical thinking skills.
This approach is fundamentally about integrating knowledge across disciplines to deal with complex problems and to better serve humanity,said Martinelli.In our changing world, a new kind of engineer is needed, one who can think broadly across disciplines and consider the human dimensions that are at the heart of every design challenge.
Martinelli earned his bachelors and masters degrees in civil engineering and public policy from Carnegie Mellon University and his doctoral degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland.
He has been a member of the WVU faculty since 1991 and chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 1996.
Download a copy of article athttp://www.cemr.wvu.edu/HolisticEngineering.pdf.