Collaborative Conference: Research on Engineering Practice: Catalyzing a Scholarly Community

Project Overview

Engineering careers are being reshaped and reimagined by rapid technological change, intensified globalization trends, new cross-disciplinary interactions, demographic shifts, and changing organizational structures. In response to these trends, organizations such as ABET, Inc., the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are leading the charge to improve the alignment of engineering education with the demands of professional practice, potentially revolutionizing how current and future engineers are prepared to excel and thrive as innovators, leaders, and change agents. Yet, how much is known about the diverse and multi-faceted realities of engineering practice, and how can this knowledge be used to improve the education and training of engineers across career stages? While the number of conference papers, journal articles, and research grants in the field that are wholly or mainly concerned with studies of engineering practice continues to grow, more scholarly work is needed for engineering education to keep pace with the evolving nature of professional practice. This project appraises the current state of research on engineering practice, while working to seed and grow an emerging scholarly community that is well positioned to carry out evidence-based transformations of engineering education programs in both academic and industry settings. A 1.5 day workshop will be convened in Fall 2018 to bring together a diverse group of scholars, educators, and industry representatives to grow a community and collaboratively investigate the current state of research on engineering practice. 


The resulting data and artifacts will serve as a foundation for defining the current state of the field and proposing future research directions. Specifically, through the workshop, we will create a compendium of literature, topics, sites, partners, methods, and theories that participants and other researchers can draw upon for their own work. Workshop activities will also incorporate discussions of missing voices and contexts in the literature to identify critical areas for future research that supports broadening participation. In addition, the workshop represents an opportunity to engage researchers, educators, and employers in conversation about how research findings on engineering practice can be used to bring engineering education and professional engineering work into closer alignment and ensure student success in the workplace.