Book by Sheri D. Sheppard, Kelly Macatangay, Anne Colby, and William M. Sullivan
Review by Abby Coffin
Director of Academic Services
University of Kansas School of Engineering

In a highly technical field such as Engineering, it is important that a student’s educational experience provides adequate preparation for the rigors of industry. Sheppard, Macatangay, Colby and Sullivan’s Educating Engineers attempts to summarize programs that are best at preparing students and give support to the rationale that changes need to be made in other programs. The book primarily covers classroom technique and student approach; the authors offer specific recommendations for the best ways to increase student learning. Time is spent analyzing class and laboratory make up as well as promoting a linear approach to the subjects covered.  

In the introductory chapters, authors discuss the motivations of students attracted to the engineering field. This is meant to help build a case for change in curriculum towards preparing the “new century engineer” (p. 8-10). Authors argue that the curriculum must provide plenty of opportunity for students to practice their decision making skills, apply theories, and make judgments on the components of a problem. The authors propose that without these opportunities, students enter the workforce underprepared. Educating Engineers also discusses the importance of course selection for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology’s (ABET) humanities and social sciences components, stressing strong connections between these selections and engineering courses.  

For administrators within engineering programs, this book provides a clear look into the curriculum outcomes needed for today’s students. It offers strong direction regarding the components that should be included, and to learning and teaching styles that best serve student needs. This book would be helpful to faculty members wishing to restructure their existing courses to better serve industry preparation. It is detailed and is easy to read and understand. Those charged with making curriculum changes will find Educating Engineers a roadmap to the changes top programs are implementing.  

From an academic advising point of view, Educating Engineers was not particularly worthwhile.  There are some noteworthy references for student motivation and retention. However, the majority of the book is dedicated to formulation of curriculum and classroom experience. Parts of the first chapter focus on the profile of today’s engineering student; this could prove useful for advisors with recruiting duties. Academic advisors who can impact the direction of curriculum, or those who are faculty and are interested in changing the outcomes of the class, will find this a good resource.

Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field. (2008). Book by Sheri D. Sheppard, Kelly Macatangay, Anne Colby, and William M. Sullivan. Review by Abby Coffin. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.  272 pages. $40.00. ISBN # 978-0-7879-7743-6
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