The last few decades have seen many changes in how different groups in society perceive the terms “engineer” or “engineering”. While these terms are used mainly for applied fields of knowledge, they are now, however, not restricted only to hard science as was previously the case. Moreover, the engineers while exercising their profession are no longer confined in factories, construction sites, or design offices, but are more and more exposed to intensive human contacts in sometimes unexpected contexts. These major changes had a direct implication on the vision we historically had about engineering and engineers and have influenced the way decision makers came to look at engineering education.
What precedes raises the following questions: Do we need a new approach to engineering curriculum in the near future? What flexibility do we have to adopt strategically to make this approach respond to societal demands? And finally, what international consensus is needed to recognize the regional and national specificities while assessing the quality of the delivered programs?
In this presentation, and relying mainly (but not only) on the Lebanese context (the graduates of the Lebanese Schools of Engineering play an important and significant role throughout the Middle East), we emphasize the importance of adopting a new approach to engineering education and try to develop certain main axis of change in the curriculum. The paper will focus on the following points:
- The first part will be devoted to describing the actual status of engineering education and the social needs for widening its educational objectives.
- The second part will deal with the learning outcomes and competencies that engineers should acquire before graduating, and the needs for a multi-faced engineering education to respond to the changing demands of the labor market. This will imply a flexible structure of the curriculum, mainly in terms of content and of learning methodologies.
- In the last part, we will elaborate the importance of an international recognition of this approach to engineering education in order to ensure its quality and to avoid penalizing institutions that choose to respond to such societal needs.
The presentation will be based not only on a literature review but also on interviews with stakeholders, fresh graduates, head of companies etc.
Nahas, G. N. & Moubayed, W. (June 29 – July 02, 2015). Social Sciences in Engineering Education. In Diversity in engineering education: facing new trends in engineering. 43rd Annual SEFI Conference. Orleans, France.