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Improving Schools for Young Engineers

Believe it or not, the chemical engineering education and other types of engineering education degree must be change or revolutionize. This is pretty much simple - due to Globalization!

While technological and social progress depends on the efforts of many different individuals from many professions, chemical engineers are usually at the center of such progress. Chemical engineers create the structures, basis, technologies, process and products that revolutionize the way people do things and improve the way people live.
Since the nature of what chemical engineers do continues to progress just as quickly as the technologies they develop, the way in which educators teach potential chemical engineers must continue to progress as well. Even though most chemical engineers laboured for five to seven years getting their degrees, many are finding it helpful to attend top online schools in the middle of their careers to supplement their education with new information (An example is the SPACE program offered by the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) to those who are in the middle of their career). Further, various parties hold that the current methodologies and approaches of engineering education need to be updated. It makes no sense to prepare engineers to solve the problems of the 21st century by teaching them the same things they were taught in the 20th century.

Long distance learning is now popular to get a degree.
One of the principal continuing developments for which engineering students must prepare for is globalization. Due largely to the efforts of chemical engineers themselves, the world is becoming increasingly connected, both through communications and transportation. Internet access continues to broaden and the functionality of Internet-based technologies continues to deepen. Extensive transportation networks, cheaper and more efficient public transportation, and increasingly efficient transportation technologies continue to bring people together and make markets more interconnected than ever. For this reason, chemical engineers must be prepared to compete on a global scale. They must be able to vie for employment wherever it exists, especially in the more rapidly developing economies, and they must be able to help employers apply engineering solutions on a global scale.

Some of the impediments to progress in the field of chemical engineering education lie in academia’s inability to apply the very interconnectedness that it is trying to instill in its students. Affected by feelings of unnecessary competition and jealousy, educators do not collaborate to the degree that modern communications technologies have already made possible. To fulfill their mandate, educators must tear down these synthetic walls and be an example of that which they intend to instill in students. Engineering professors, researchers, and teachers must learn to work together in concerted efforts within their respective institutions as well as across institutional and international boundaries. This necessity is particularly evident in the fact that, as technologies continue to improve, a higher degree of specialization will necessarily arise, and such specialization always requires collaboration. A good example has been shown by a professor who lecture Matlab software and uploaded his lecture in youtube. Here is the link. As a result, not only his student can learn but others can learn as well. Yep, that include myself who is presently working hard to understand some parts of Matlab to solve my nonlinear simultaneous equation.

The fact of increasing globalization and the growing prominence of new economic powers has important implications not only to how engineers must learn, but also what they must learn. Currently, the lingua franca for business and academia across the world is English. For this reason, chemical engineers in English-speaking countries rarely see the need to learn other languages, and engineers in other countries frequently go to great pains to learn English.

However, according to one British Council report, the prominence of English as the global language is actually waning. Mandarin Chinese will remain the most widely spoken language in the world for the foreseeable future, and as China becomes wealthier and more educated, its sphere of international influence will expand. English, on the other hand, will most likely be soon overtaken by Spanish. To compete in the job market and contribute to society in the most efficient ways, engineers must learn languages other than English. For this reason, chemical engineering programs must advocate and require language education as part of the core curriculum.

The field of chemical engineering is undergoing significant change, and it will continue to do so. Rather than standing as inhibitors to change, educational institutions must become the bellwethers of a new age. Only by recognizing the merits and the necessity of globalization and increased connectivity can engineering programs provide their students with the tools necessary to do that which they intended to do by deciding to study engineering.

1st image credited to chemical-engineers.regionaldirectory.us.
2nd image credited to http://www.isaeur.org/oldn03.html.
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The Author


I’m Zaki. I used to be a project, process and chemical engineer. Few years ago I successfully became a Chartered Engineer (IChemE) and Professional Engineer (BEM). I'm now employed as a chemical engineering educator/researcher/consultant. Hope you like reading my blog. I welcome any feedback from you. My email: zaki.yz[alias]gmail.com. TQ!

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