E. Crawley, J. Malmqvist, D. Brodeur, C. Jianzhong (2008).  THE CONTEXT OF ENGINEERING EDUCATION. 18.

A learning context is the set of cultural surroundings and environments that contribute to understanding, and in which knowledge and skills are learned. We believe that the product, process, or system lifecycle -- conceiving-designing-implementing-operating (CDIO) -- should be the context, but not the content, of engineering education. The setting of the education, the skills we teach, and the attitudes we convey should all indicate that conceiving-designing-implementing-operating is the role of engineers in their service to society. This is the central principle of the CDIO approach, and is reflected in the first principle of effective practice – CDIO Standard 1.

In this paper, we first review the context of professional practice of engineering, and identify aspects that are timeless, and aspects that are evolving due to changes in technology and society. Then, we describe CDIO as the context of engineering education, and highlight models that, while different from CDIO, serve as equally valid contexts for engineering education. The rationale for teaching engineering in context is clear and compelling. It is based on emulation of professional practice, support of skills learning, and theories and best practices of contextual learning as applied in engineering and higher education.

Finally, the paper concludes with a discussion of the broader societal need for adopting an appropriate context for engineering education, and more effectively training engineers. The case of development of engineering education in China is highlighted, and parallels are drawn to educational needs in Sweden and in the United States.

Authors (New): 
Edward F. Crawley
Johan Malmqvist
Doris R. Brodeur
Cha Jianzhong
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA
Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden
Beijing Jiaotong University, China
Engineering education
Contextual learning
The CDIO approach
The need for engineers in China, Sweden, and the United States
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