The attribute focus in engineering education now adopted by the engineering education accrediting bodies of the US, UK and Australia is based on meeting the assumed needs of professional practice. It is associated with an increasing expectation by employers of work-ready graduates rather than relying on subsequent work-based learning and experience to develop many of the essential professional practice attributes. Yet the scope of the mechanical engineering profession is broad and views of practitioners contributing to debate on attribute requirements are largely influenced by their own often unique professional formation.
In addition, the formative development of the profession in Australia has been significantly influenced by 19th and 20th century UK and US practices, although historically the industrial profile of Australia has been strikingly different. An analysis of current industry distribution of Australian, UK and US mechanical engineers presented in this paper shows continuing, although less marked, differences.
To develop a clearer perception of the profession in Australia, its educational formation, and operational environment, this paper provides a concise study of the formative development of the profession, and presents a breakdown of the industry sectors in which they are currently employed. The effects of momentous global changes in engineering employment and formation over recent decades are also discussed.
Recent changes in engineering employment have included major structural changes to organisations, accelerating technical and educational developments and mounting societal expectations making it imperative that attributes be attuned to the new engineering paradigm as increasing demands are placed on our graduates.
This paper provides an essential foundation for ongoing debate and analysis of attribute needs related to this broadly based engineering discipline. Although presented from an Australian perspective, many issues discussed are applicable worldwide.
Online Publication Date: 01 August 2006
Field of Research
220299 History and Philosophy of Specific Fields not elsewhere classified