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

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


  • There has arguably never been a more exciting time to be an engineer. In addition to a strong employment outlook for most engineering specialties, engineering careers are constantly being reshaped 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 ever-changing demands of professional practice. Yet, despite these reforms, not much is known about the diverse and multi-faceted realities of engineering practice and the ways this knowledge can be used to improve the education and training of engineers across career stages. The workshop supported by this award appraises the current state of research on engineering practice, while working to seed and grow an emerging and vibrant scholarly community that is well positioned to carry out evidence-based transformations of engineering education programs in both academic and industry settings. Participants will include researchers, educators, policymakers, and employers invested in using theory and research on engineering practice to reimagine and transform engineering education and the workforce.A two-day workshop will bring together a diverse group of approximately 25-30 participants to collaboratively discuss and investigate research on engineering practice. The workshop will be convened immediately prior to, and co-located with, the Frontiers in Education (FIE) Annual Conference in October 2018. Presentations, panels, networking sessions, and group discussions will be used to collectively develop a deeper understanding of engineering practice. Participants will then apply that understanding in interactive sessions focused on using research on engineering practice to transform engineering education and the workforce. The workshop has four main goals. First, a new, global agenda will be defined to inform key stakeholders in decisions about future research on engineering practice. Second, the participants and facilitators will co-create a compendium of literature, topics, sites, partners, methods, and theories that participants and other researchers can draw upon for their own work. Third, the workshop represents a unique opportunity to engage partners from education, policy, and industry in conversation about how research on engineering practice can be used to bring engineering education and professional engineering work into closer alignment. Finally, the workshop will catalyze new research collaborations, projects, and funding proposals related to engineering practice. Workshop activities will incorporate discussions of missing voices and contexts in the literature to identify critical areas for future research that supports broadening participation. Anticipated outcomes include an editorial or position piece on the current state of research on engineering education and actionable guidelines for future research, an edited volume or special issue of a journal comprised of papers or commentaries on engineering education and practice, and a workshop summary report. A special session during the 2018 FIE conference is also planned, to share highlights from the workshop, provide preliminary guidance on methods and approaches for research on engineering practice, and further grow the community of interest among a larger number of potential participants.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

date/time interval

  • August 11, 2018 - May 30, 2020

sponsor award ID

  • 1854814