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April 2021


  • The 20 Engineering Schools That Award the Most Bachelor’s Degrees to Asian Americans

Sponsored Content: NCEES

  • 2021 NCEES Engineering Education Award


  • University of Colorado Offers Virtual STEM Workshops
  • Precollege Transportation Engineering Toolkit


  • More than a ‘Nice Change’

Sponsored Content: Autodesk

  • Toolset, Skillset, Mindset: A Global Perspective


  • Engineer Farm


  • New Advances in Engineering Education
  • CoNECD Abstract Submissions
  • ASEE Included in NSF’s Engineering Research Visioning Alliance
  • Join Us This Spring for Online Safe Zone Workshops!
  • Prism Magazine Survey


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The National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing professional licensure for engineers and surveyors.

The NCEES Engineering Education Award recognizes college engineering programs for engaging their students in collaborative projects with licensed professional engineers. It was established to promote understanding of the value of licensure and to encourage partnerships between the engineering profession and education.

Due to the cancellation of the 2020 competition, NCEES will be accepting those entries for the 2021 competition cycle. If a program completed a project in 2020, it can be entered for a chance to win one of the 2021 cash awards. Please consider entering projects that integrate professional practice and education.

At the discretion of the award jury, up to eight cash awards are presented each year. EAC/ABET-accredited programs from all engineering disciplines are invited to compete for the $25,000 grand prize and seven $10,000 prizes. The winning engineering departments/colleges decide how to best use the cash award. NCEES encourages the winners to use the funds for the advancement of projects connecting professional practice and education.

 “The Engineering Education Award is a great program,“ said NCEES Engineering Education Award juror Steven Barrett, Ph.D., P.E. “It’s an outstanding method that celebrates engineering student design and collaboration with professional engineers.”

Competition details
The NCEES Engineering Education Award categories are as follows:

• International projects
• Community enhancement projects
• Public welfare and health services/care projects
• Energy and sustainability projects
• Device/design/prototype projects
• Freshman/sophomore design projects
• Innovation projects

Grand prize: $25,000
Up to seven awards: $10,000 each

Projects must be in progress by March 15, 2021. The entry deadline is May 17, 2021. Learn about NCEES Engineering Education Award project ideas, evaluation criteria, and more at


Image courtesy of TeachEngineering/University of Colorado


The University of Colorado–Boulder’s College of Engineering has joined forces with the School of Education to create two professional development online workshops for PreK–12 STEM teachers. The two-day workshops will be offered twice this summer, first in June and then again in August.

These workshops are the first endorsed under ASEE’s new professional development endorsement program (ETPDE). They will help teachers embed hands-on, phenomena-based learning and engineering-design thinking into classrooms. The techniques were created in compliance with Next Generation Science Standards and work for both in-person and remote student teams. They focus on situations that students encounter in their daily lives. The workshops cover how to teach the engineering-design process, engineering applications toward solving real-world challenges, and how to relate engineering careers to students. They’ll also help students realize that design thinking can be used to humanely and creatively solve the kinds of problems we all experience.

The first workshop, “Integrating Engineering Design Into Your PreK–12 Curriculum,” is scheduled for June 14–15 and August 9–10; the second, “Engineering Prototyping and Pedagogy Skills and Tools for PreK–12,” is scheduled for June 16–17 and August 11–12. Learn more.

Image courtesy of University of Arkansas


Sarah Hernandez, assistant professor of civil engineering at the University of Arkansas, has developed a sensor-based toolkit to help introduce transportation engineering topics to K–12 students. She’s particularly keen to attract more young women to the transportation industry, noting that only one in six employees are women.

Hernandez’s research uses laser sensors to track freight trucks traveling from ports to inland destinations. The toolkit enables K–12 pupils to build traffic sensors to study traffic patterns with the help of graduate and undergraduate students. They then use the data to analyze industry port performance and roadway usage. The sensor bundles—which use LiDAR and Bluetooth technologies—are inexpensive and capable of detecting, characterizing, and tracking freight trucks as they travel to and from water ports.

The kits can be used in regular science classrooms or STEM summer programs. “Active learning is one way to better link course content with students’ motivation to study a subject while introducing transportation engineering concepts like transportation planning or other maritime transportation themes,” Hernandez says. The toolkit was funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the university’s Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center. Learn more.





Educators must teach students that ethics are an integral part of engineering education and practice.

By Johanna Lönngren

Technological advancements profoundly influence society and impact people’s lives globally. Engineering students therefore must learn how to take ethical responsibility for the societal impacts of technology. Many engineering instructors are highly engaged in, and committed to, teaching ethics in their classrooms. However, research suggests that many students still graduate with the impression that ethics is not an important part of their education and doesn’t concern them as future engineers. I wanted to understand why and how that occurs.

I conducted an in-depth study in a general introductory course for first-year engineering students in Sweden. The course covered ethics as well as design methodology, group and project work, and engineering as a profession. According to the course description, the ethics instruction in the course aimed to develop the students’ ability to discuss moral and ethical concerns that may arise in their professional work. Students attended a lecture highlighting two professional codes of ethics and participated in discussions of fictitious ethics cases in small groups and from perspectives such as those of employees or customers. At the end of the lecture, they were assigned a reflective essay in which they had to identify an ethical dilemma they could expect to encounter in their future professional life, apply at least one of the professional codes, and discuss how they would act.

I followed the students to most of their classes and observed group work sessions. I also conducted interviews with students and teachers and collected course documents and student work. In analyzing the data, I focused on how instructors and students talked about ethics in relation to other topics in the course, the engineering degree, and the engineering profession. For my analysis, I created a mind map of positive (aligning) and negative (distancing) relations.

The results illustrate how ethics may be viewed as unimportant in the culture of engineering education and how this often happens unintentionally despite instructors’ best intentions to integrate ethical reflection and decision-making in their teaching. For example, the results show that teachers talked about ethics as something other than the technical content of the engineering program, comparable to subjects such as philosophy or Japanese. Indeed, students experienced the ethics content in the course as “a nice change” but not very well integrated with the technical content.

Teachers also described ethics as mostly about commonsense thinking and personal opinions, which left students with an understanding of ethical reflection as an activity that requires neither analysis nor carefully developed ethical principles and frameworks. In contrast, teachers talked about technical content with a strong focus on robustly tested theories and methods. This difference further strengthened students’ impressions that ethics is not an integral part of engineering. In addition, students’ ethics learning was not properly assessed in the course. The reflective essays were mainly assessed on their format, such as layout and use of references, rather than the quality of students’ ethical reflection. Unfortunately, students concluded that the essay “wasn’t very important.”

To communicate the importance of ethics, instructors can teach ethical reflection as a structured, analytic activity based on frameworks of ethical reasoning. However, these frameworks must not be presented as abstract theories that could be perceived as irrelevant to engineering practice. Instead, students need to learn to apply these frameworks to concrete, real-world cases from everyday engineering work. Instructors must also assess ethics learning with explicit criteria, since students tend to focus their energy on what is assessed.

Assessment criteria can also help teachers and students better understand what students are expected to learn, thus reducing their experience of ethics as “fluffy” and mostly about personal opinions. If we want our students to become responsible professionals, ethics needs to become one of their—and our—main foci. Frameworks of ethical reasoning and assessment rubrics can serve as effective tools to achieve that aim.

Johanna Lönngren is an associate professor in the department of science and mathematics education at Umeå University, Sweden. This article is based on “Exploring the Discursive Construction of Ethics in an Introductory Engineering Course” in the January 2021 issue of the Journal of Engineering Education.

For examples of assessment criteria, see this rubric for ethical reflection, or the Engineering Ethical Reasoning Instrument (EERI).

This article appeared in Prism magazine’s February 2021 issue. To read more articles from this and other issues, go to


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Toolset, Skillset, Mindset: A Global Perspective
Exploring advances in multidisciplinary engineering pedagogy

Please join Autodesk and guest educators on May 6, 12:00-1:00 PM ET in a discussion about how technology is impacting the way engineering is being taught at leading schools. Discover how your academic colleagues are advancing education utilizing technology in multi-disciplinary engineering courses. You will hear from faculty around the world how they instruct and inspire their students. Learn what you can do immediately in your classroom to provide valuable skills to students, enabling them to be more creative, innovative and collaborative. 

Register now to save your spot! If you are unable to attend, those who register will receive the recording after the event.

Fab Clayton
Education Engagement Program Manager – Design & Engineering;
Autodesk, United States

Guest Speakers:
Dr. Tim Baker
Professorial Teaching Fellow / Team Principal UCL Racing - UCL Mechanical Engineering; University College of London, United Kingdom
Dr. Antonios Kontsos
Associate Professor, Director of Theoretical & Applied Mechanics Group - Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics;
Drexel University, United States
Dr. Nachiketa Tiwari
Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering;
Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), India

Register now!



Engineering students may feel like they are herded into industry so their knowledge can be exploited. Familiarity with engineering law could change that.

By Amman Asfaw, Prism student columnist

Our nation’s generational wealth distribution is grossly disturbing. Capitalism, politics, pandemic, recessions, and wars are all culprits, but the U.S. STEM education system is also an accomplice to this extreme wealth gap. Engineering educators and administrators can do their part in bridging generational wealth gaps by weaving “legal engineering” into students’ academic curriculum. Understanding legal topics will empower engineers to claim or reclaim ownership of their work. And ownership yields wealth.

But first, some context. Zoomers (Generation Z) were born in the years 1997–2012, Millennials in the years 1981–1996. Zillennials are a microgeneration born roughly 1993–1998; these are the recent college graduates. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, in 2020 Millennials and Zoomers each held only about 3 percent of the country’s net worth, despite collectively making up 42.4 percent of the population. Three percent for Zoomers makes sense, because most are still in school and have little to negative net worth due to student loan debt. But an approximately identical 3 percent for Millennials—some of whom have been in the workforce for up to 20 years—is abysmal, terrifying, and unsustainable for our nation’s future.

Intergenerational and interdisciplinary solutions are required. Economic efforts such as tax changes, debt absolution, and reparations will always make headlines. Engineering education should contribute by emphasizing the intersections of law and engineering throughout the curriculum.

Law seems to be one of the last remaining fields to be revolutionized by engineers. Many court dockets are most easily accessible via paper, while debates continue on how automation or artificial intelligence should transform the judicial system. Likewise, undergraduate engineering education barely intersects with law. Few engineering students enter the workforce understanding basic intellectual property protections such as patents, trademarks, or copyrights. In the real world, engineering and law go hand in hand, and when they do, they yield wealth.

Many U.S. engineering programs prepare students to enter industry. But this focus backfires if it is taken too far. Our country’s current wealth distribution is proof we are at a tipping point. Engineers’ brainpower is nothing but human capital to corporations. There’s a blurry line between “investing in your employees” and surreptitious intellectual exploitation.

It is almost as if our engineering programs—or shall I say farms—breed technically sound but ill-advised sheep that know nothing other than how to be herded. Every year engineering programs auction herds to industry at career fairs only for the naive engineers to have their wool sheared off for corporate profit. In exchange for their production, engineers are lulled into loyalty with perks and benefits that do not add to their immediate net worth. This compensation ultimately leaves engineers sheepish with less equity ownership of what they themselves produced and are entitled to.

I share this dire outlook on the engineering farm (rather than pipeline) based on my personal experience and research. It is my belief that legal engineering education could be the empowerment Zoomers need to break the cycle of generational wealth inequality. Legal engineering is a broad term that relates to topics such as patent law, intellectual property, automation of the legal and judicial system, consumers’ rights and privacy issues, corporate law, and engineering ethics and compliance.

For example, senior projects and master’s theses could include a requirement to file a patent, trademark, or copyright with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). An incentive could be covering the associated fees.

What if each upper-level engineering course contained one relevant technical legal case or dispute? For instance, legal disputes currently occurring with social media giants or natural resource-affiliated corporations would be phenomenal supplemental case studies for engineering students to review in a low-pressure setting. We would produce better engineers and scientists if we normalized this. Taking it a step further, how about offering a legal engineering elective course within colleges of engineering?

Engineering educators possess the awesome power to produce holistic engineers who are legally competent. But until U.S. academia empowers STEM students with law, engineers will continue bleating about overwork while executives drift to sleep counting their sheep.

Amman Asfaw is an electrical engineering graduate student and researcher at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo.

This column was featured in Prism magazine’s February 2021 issue. To read more articles from this and other issues, go to




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Advances in Engineering Education disseminates significant, proven innovations in engineering education practice, especially those enhanced through the creative use of multimedia. The Spring 2021 issue is now online and features papers on toy adaptation for children with special needs, fostering effective team dynamics, and creating antiracist engineering classrooms. 



Don't miss out! Submit your abstract for the 2022 CoNECD Conference (member login required). The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity (CoNECD—pronounced “Connected”) conference provides a forum for exploring current research and practices to enhance diversity and inclusion of all underrepresented populations in the engineering and computing professions.

Learn more.


Image courtesy of NSF


The National Science Foundation's Directorate for Engineering recently launched the Engineering Research Visioning Alliance (ERVA), the first engineering research visioning organization of its kind. ASEE is represented on the ERVA’s governing board and its standing council. America’s economic competitiveness is tied directly to the pace of scientific and technological discovery, which requires sustained, long-term support as well as agility. ERVA was created to help the U.S. stay at the forefront of research and innovation and maintain its leadership in the global economy. Learn more about ERVA’s mission and vision.



Support LGBTQ+ equity and inclusion in STEM: Participate in online Safe Zone Ally Training workshops this spring! Level 1 workshops explore LGBTQ+ key terms and concepts and share simple ally strategies. Level 2 workshops explore privilege and bias, the STEM climate for LGBTQ+ individuals, and inclusive classroom strategies. Learn more and sign up today —seating is limited!



Please take a few moments (five minutes, tops) to let us know how we can improve Prism magazine for you. With great writing and beautiful design, Prism’s feature stories, teaching tips, Society news, and thought-provoking columnists make it the voice for the engineering education community. To continue to give you the best content, we'd love to have your feedback on our various sections, writers, and themes. Please take this survey by May 15 and be entered to win an AMEX gift card.




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