University at Buffalo, USA
A Systems Approach to Continuing Education of Engineers
Abstract: It is an established fact that the overall welfare of any society directly depends upon the level of contribution and productivity of each of its members. In modern times, however, it has also become clear that the engineering know-how of a society further amplifies the productivity of its other members trough innovation and technology. Therefore, contributions of engineers are, the backbone of an economy in today’s complex world. However, in a closed loop system in which technological advancements trigger complexities of life in social patterns which, in turn, requires technological tools to cope with them, we find that a graduate engineer’s period of active participation in the professional life keeps shrinking. There are a few in the profession who, by genius and innovation, keep advancing the frontiers of technology while the majority left behind, find it difficult to cope with. At the same time over the last couple of decades, we have witnessed that technological revolutions in information processing, computing, communications and AI [Artificial Intelligence] have turned geo-political boundaries in to lines in the sand. As educators, the challenges we face now are not only the initial education at the Bachelor’s degree level, in a given geopolitical confine, but also to design an education system for life-long productivity of engineers within a global framework. Since engineering is application of scientific knowledge to solve societies’ real-life problems, hands-on education and training is essential in this profession. Though in this respect it parallels the medical and legal profession, the education system of engineers does not come close to the education system of doctors and lawyers. This paper, using a systems approach, presents life-long engineering education as a multi-loop control system with the student engineer as the “plant” and the four institutions as the controllers and feedback elements, as portrayed in the block diagram [Figure 3]. These four institutions being: The Government, The Professional Society, The University and, The Industry. After introduction, a set of roles and responsibilities of these institutions are developed based on this model. Multi-institutional approach to the process of engineering education is covered in the following section with couple of case studies. Then role of IT and communication technologies as tools of distance education are described followed by some recommendations.
Bio: Dr. Mohammed Safiuddin received B.E. (Electrical) degree from
Osmania University, Hyderabad, India in 1959 and MSEE degree from
the University of Illinois in 1960. Later he received MBA and Ph.D.
degrees from the University at Buffalo [SUNY], in 1971 and 1982
Having worked as Junior Engineer in Andhra Pradesh State Electricity Board (India) for over a year before arriving in the USA, he joined the Systems Control Department of Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Buffalo, New York in June of 1960 as an Associate Engineer. He progressed through the ranks of Engineer, Senior Engineer and Fellow Engineer positions to become Manager, Product/Strategic Planning in 1982 in the Power Electronics and Drive Systems Division and was later appointed Technical Advisor in the Marketing Department of the same Division. His interests in continuing education has kept him in close contact with the University at Buffalo (SUNY), where he did part-time teaching in early sixties and then served as Adjunct Associate Professor (‘77-‘91), and Research Professor [’91-‘10]. He is currently Research Professor Emeritus [Advanced Technology Applications] in the Electrical Engineering Department of University at Buffalo [UB]. He is also President of STS International, a technology service firm he established in September 1985. His areas of technical interests cover static power conversion and optimal control systems as applied to industrial processes, renewable energy, and Smart Grid power systems. He has been awarded 10 patents in this field and has dozens of technical papers and conference presentations to his credit.
He is a Life Fellow ('93) of the IEEE and has served as Chairman of Industrial Controls Committee of IAS (1985-87), Chairman of Education Committee (1978-88), Director of the IEEE Buffalo Section (1983- 86), and Chairman of the Industrial Utilization Systems Department of IAS (1990-91). He was awarded the Roscoe Allen Gold Medal in 1957 by Osmania University, and was nominated for the prestigious B.G. Lamme scholarship of Westinghouse by his Division in 1968 and 1980. He was awarded "IUSD Award of Merit" in 1992 by the IEEE-Industry Applications Society for his contributions to industrial control technologies, and service to the IAS. He was recognized for meritorious achievement in continuing education by the IEEE-EAB award for the year 2000. He is a member of the Pi Mu Epsilon (Mathematics), Beta Gamma Sigma (Business) honor societies and an "Eminent Engineer" member of Tau Beta Pi (Engineering).