Publication Details

Beder, S, Beyond technicalities: Expanding engineering thinking, Journal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice, 125(1), January 1999. Copyright 1999 American Society of Civil Engineers. Journal homepage here.


Engineering appears to be at a turning point. It is evolving from an occupation that provides employers and clients with competent technical advice to a profession that serves the community in a socially responsible manner. Traditional engineering education caters to the former ideal, whereas increasingly both engineers themselves and their professional societies aspire to the latter. Employers are also requiring more from their engineering employees than technical proficiency. A new educational approach is needed to meet these changing requirements. It is no longer sufficient, nor even practical, to attempt to cram students full of technical knowledge in the hope that it will enable them to do whatever engineering task is required of them throughout their careers. A broader, more general approach is required that not only helps students to understand basic engineering principles but also gives them the ability to acquire more specialized knowledge as the need arises.