Author: Yeh-Liang Hsu (2001-05-27);
modification: Yeong-Bin Yang (2001-05-30); recommendation:
Yeh-Liang Hsu (2001-05-27).
Note: This is a position paper for
the 1st Trilateral Korea, Taiwan, and USA workshop on engineering education and research, August 3-4, 2001, Oslo, Norway.
Issues on institutional reform of
engineering education in Taiwan
Here are the
several issues that we consider important to institutional reform of
engineering education in Taiwan,
and what we think we can benefit from international cooperation with
universities in the United
To allow the students to select
their major until their second or third year of study in colleges.
question from engineering students is that they are not interested in what they
are learning. To this an answer is to let them decide their major after they
have better understanding of the curricula and future prospect of each field,
as well as their own interests. This has been the system imposed by a number of
universities in the United
States for years. Recently, some management
schools in Taiwan
request all the fresh students to take the so-called “management major”. It is
until the end of the first year that the students are allowed to select their
department of interest.
approach may not work for engineering colleges in Taiwan, if one realizes that all
the departments in each college are almost of the same size, and that
departments of electrical engineering and information engineering remain the
hottest choice for most students. It will be impossible for all the students to
get into the same one or two departments they are eager for. Through exchange
of opinions with our partners, we can learn about how the universities in the
United Sates handle this problem and what are their major concerns.
To create a more flexible
system by adding new interdisciplinary programs.
rapid progress of new technologies, the traditional way of division of
engineering into civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical engineering, etc., may
not be suitable anymore. The boundary between any two fields is not so clear
compared with decades ago. This issue is somewhat related to the first one. To
reflect such a situation, it is necessary to provide more flexible means to
break the barriers between the traditional departments, and to establish some
new programs of interdisciplinary nature.
engineering schools in Taiwan
are developing interdisciplinary programs. But with the current institutional
structure, every student is still required to have a major, and to fulfill the
requirements of that major. Most of the time, interdisciplinary programs are
nothing, but just a combination of several extra courses offered by different
departments. In this regard, we are interested in how the major universities in
the United States
deal with the problem of interdisciplinary programs.
To fill the gap between what
are taught in universities and what are needed by industry.
frequent complaint from the local industry in Taiwan is that they have to invest
a lot in training their employees newly recruited from universities. Of course,
it is not realistic, if not impossible, to expect that an engineering student
receives all the skills or trainings required by the industry. Nevertheless,
demand will always remain there on the university side to narrow the gap
between what are offered by the universities and what are needed by the
areas, the technologies used in industry evolve so fast that the curricula
offered by the universities may not be able to catch up with in a short time.
Moreover, the engineering students in Taiwan need more training on
independent problem-solving and hands-on practice, to remedy the weakness
inherited from traditional closed-type education. As far as the institutional
or curriculum reform are concerned, we should consider how to bring in more
input or stimulus from the industry, how to turn many of the “lecture,
homework, exam” type of courses into the “need-driven, problem-solving, report”
type of courses. We believe that many engineering schools in the United States
have good experience and course models in this aspect.
To expose the engineering
students in Taiwan
to international arena.
that is often brought up these days in Taiwan is that the number of
students going abroad for advanced study drops sharply in recent years. One
side effect of this phenomenon is that the made-in-Taiwan students may not have
enough international experience, as well as communication ability, to compete
in the high-tech era of globalization, especially after Taiwan joins
the World Trade Organization in the near future.
international cooperation, our aim is to create more opportunities for
engineering students to expose in international conventions and societies. For
example, we should establish more bi-lateral international exchange programs
for students to conduct industrial training abroad. Also, we should encourage
students to take part in international engineering design contests, and to
present papers or technical achievements in international conferences.