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ASME Council on Education, November 2004

Walt Laity, Pacific NW National Laboratory
ASME Vice President, Engineering Education The ASME - Council on Education presents this paper to promote a shared
Chair, Body of Knowledge Task Force
vision of the future of mechanical engineering education in the context of

Body of Knowledge Task Force new and rapidlyemerging technologies and disciplines, national and
global trends, societal challenges for the 21st century, and associated
Win Aung, National Science Foundation opportunities for the profession.
Richard Benson, Pennsylvania State University
Jim Bernard, Iowa State University While this paper focuses on baccalaureate-level education, the Society also
Ken Fisher, Pennsylvania StateUniversity, Erie intends to foster innovation at all levels of the educational “pipeline” from
Frank Gourley, West Virginia Institute of Technology K-12 through doctoral programs and continuing education (the latter via,
Belinda King, Oregon State University e.g., ASME’s on-line Professional Practice Curriculum).
Aric Menon, Technical University of Denmark
Bill Nott, Lockheed Martin SpaceSystems For the purpose of this paper, “mechanical engineering education” and
Tom Perry, ASME “mechanical engineering programs” encompass baccalaureate-level
Bob Simoneau, Pennsylvania State University, Erie programs in both mechanical engineering and mechanical engineering
Cynthia Stong, The Boeing Company technology, except for BSME-specific examples that reference ABET
BobWarrington, Michigan Technological University Accreditation Criteria for Engineering Programs and ABET/EAC
Bill Wepfer, Georgia Institute of Technology mechanical engineering program criteria.

Vision • The typical scope of a baccalaureate program (and
As an inclusive discipline with the flexibility to the increasing emphasis on limiting the
accommodate broad interests, mechanicalengineering baccalaureate degree to four years, particularly in
seeks to broaden its attraction to highly capable state-supported colleges and universities) cannot
students, including women and other traditionally accommodate in-depth technical specialization,
underrepresented groups, many of whom might not but can accommodate technical breadth and
otherwise consider entering a mechanicalengineering flexibility and the intellectual skills necessary for
program. Innovations in mechanical engineering life-long learning.
education will prepare these students to pursue their • Classical mechanical engineering principles will
individual interests well beyond the perceived remain essential for the development of new
boundaries of the discipline’s traditional roles. Thesetechnologies in, e.g., the life sciences and micro-
students may wish to enter any among a wide variety scale applications. Mechanical engineers must
of career paths for which a mechanical engineering have the intellectual agility to contribute not only
background would constitute a desirable foundation. their specialized expertise in interdisciplinary
Among the alternatives areentry-level engineering collaborations for technology development, but to
opportunities for baccalaureate-level graduates, understand and appreciate the contributions of
practice-oriented or research-oriented graduate study, specialists in other fields as well.
and/or entry into other professions.

Evolutionary changes in mechanical engineering’s
Premises more established areas arealso vitally important
for sustaining the vitality of the profession. These
Key premises on which this vision is based include the
changes are intimately linked in importance to
mechanical engineering’s contributions to the
• The principal objective of a baccalaureate-level development of new technologies.
engineering program is to provide the intellectual •...
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