Engineering education: Departments, degrees and directions

Lisa C. Benson, Kurt Becker, Melanie M. Cooper, O. Hayden Griffin, Karl A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


The idea that effective reform in engineering and science education should be guided through systematic research and outcomes assessment should be self-evident; however, historically, the educational practices and beliefs held by faculty in higher education have been largely anecdotal and based on personal experience. There is growing acceptance of discipline-based education as a valuable research enterprise, on the same level as research into, say, mechanical engineering or organic chemistry. Evidence of innovative ways that discipline-based education programs are taking root in higher education include the establishment of cross-disciplinary departments in science, technology, and engineering education. These departments bring together faculty whose research area is education, who can tackle large-scale problems across the curriculum in addition to disciplinespecific research projects. These departments seek to ensure that: 1) faculty engaged in engineering and science education research conduct rigorous, scholarly work, 2) education research is accessible and valued by faculty in 'traditional' engineering and science disciplines, and 3) the next generation of engineering and science educators will promote and apply education research. In this paper, we will review the details behind the formation of departments that include engineering education, specifically highlighting their roots, structures and purpose. We will also provide information on typical courses, programs and degrees offered by these departments, and career paths for their graduates. Finally, we offer examples of how the discipline of engineering education has been fostered at institutions without a dedicated department, such as centers and other 'hybrid' models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1042-1048
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2010


  • Discipline-based education research
  • Engineering education curriculum
  • Graduate education


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