UW News

October 13, 1998

Pacific Northwest Roundtable bringing together leaders from academia, government and industry to assess region’s engineering education

Educational institutions must work more closely with government and industry if they are to succeed in the increasingly competitive global environment. That is the motivation behind the Pacific Northwest Regional Roundtable for Enhancing Engineering and Technology Education, which will hold its first meeting from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at the University of Washington Husky Union Building.

Modeled after a similar national initiative, the Pacific Northwest Regional Roundtable will address issues ranging from implementing new results-oriented engineering accreditation requirements to increasing university-industry collaborations and meeting the region’s growing demand for a diverse, high-tech work force.

“As a provider of the region’s technical work force and a catalyst for technological innovation, engineering and technical education must respond to rapidly changing conditions,” said Denice D. Denton, dean of the UW College of Engineering and co-organizer of the Roundtable. Other co-organizers include Ron Adams, dean of engineering at Oregon State University; Bob Davis, vice president of engineering at The Boeing Co.; and Mike Matson, vice president at Hewlett-Packard Co.

“We need increased collaboration among academic institutions, industry and government if engineering degree programs are to meet new engineering accreditation requirements and ultimately prepare our students to be the engineering and technology leaders of the next century.”

The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, which evaluates engineering, technology and applied science education programs nationwide, has adopted a new set of accreditation criteria that will go into effect in 2001. The new criteria are designed to assess what students get out of their education in terms of achieving professional goals rather than what goes into the degree in terms of course curriculum and institutional resources. Exactly how the criteria are implemented and how educational institutions assess their compliance are open questions, Denton explained, but there is little doubt that the answers will require increased cooperation among academia, government and industry.

This is one of the first subjects that will be addressed by the Pacific Northwest Regional Roundtable, which will be comprised of about 50 academic, government and industry leaders from throughout the Pacific Northwest. Other issues to be addressed by the group include reforming the academic curriculum to meet industry needs, preparing graduates for global technical challenges, developing programs and infrastructure to provide life-long learning, assessing distance learning technology and curriculum and transferring knowledge and technology to promote commercial product development. The Roundtable is expected to meet twice a year.


For more information, contact Barbara Campbell at (425) 827-5135 or Denton at (206) 543-1829