Leah Jamieson, past IEEE president and Dean of Engineering at Purdue University, addressed the plenary session at Fortune's Brainstorm Tech meeting in Half Moon Bay, California on Wednesday.
Her call to action was three-fold---attract, educate, manage---and included:
The challenge for all of us: Changing the perception of engineering and other technology professions. Making sure that young people understand how engineers can make the world a better place.
The challenge for educators: Changing the way engineering and other technology disciplines are taught. Moving away from the discipline by discipline approach and toward integrated experiences that allow students to appreciate how they'll be able to apply what they're learning.
The challenge for industry: Changing entry level positions. Making theses jobs stimulating and rewarding so newly minted engineers don't flee to other industries.
Professor Jamieson knows whereof she speaks. She is co-founder and past director of the Engineering Projects in Community Service---EPICS---program. Under that program, teams of undergraduates earn academic credit for multi-year, multidisciplinary projects that solve engineering- and technology-based problems for community service and education organizations. She and EPICS colleagues Edward J. Coyle and William C. Oakes were awarded the U.S. National Academy of Engineering's 2005 Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education. She's also received the NSF Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, been inducted into Purdue's Book of Great Teachers, and been named Indiana Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.