Education Workshop in Columbia Provides Framework for Cooperation

September 18, 2013

Enhancing engineering education, accreditation, and job creation in the Americas was the focus of a 1-day workshop organized by ASCE at the Pan American Federation of Engineering Societies (UPADI) Annual Meeting 2013 in Medellin, Columbia, August 19-24.

More than 40 members from academia, government, and industry gathered to discuss and propose new initiatives to improve engineering education throughout the hemisphere, especially in Latin America. The discussions from this workshop will be used to develop a “white paper” which will be presented at the next meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology (COMCYT), taking place November 14-15, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

“We had presentations from a number of highly respected people from academia, including Dean Leah Jamieson from Purdue University and Dean Susana Vegas Chiyon from the Universidad de Piura,” explained Clifford Schexnayder, Ph.D., P.E., Dist.M.ASCE, ASCE’s lead representative on UPADI matters. “We also had Jhon Wilder Zartha Sossa [coordinator of the Group on Policy Research and Technology Management at the University Pontificia Bolivariana], who put up a slide illustrating that there is not a single university in South America that ranks in the top 200 civil engineering programs in the world. Most people knew that but when he showed that slide, it really woke up the whole room.”

“From an ASCE perspective, we hoped to share ASCE’s Body of Knowledge, to deliver continuing education, and to develop partnerships with other countries in the region that are mutually beneficial,” Schexnayder added.

“My observation [from the workshop] is that most of the engineers [in attendance] have great respect for ASCE and would like to get more involved as members in order to avail themselves of the opportunities ASCE offers in terms of continuing education and professional development,” says R. Raymond Issa, Ph.D., J.D., P.E., F.ASCE, ASCE’s alternate lead representative to UPADI.

“As the new president of the Technical Council of UPADI and a proud member of ASCE, I feel honored and excited to lead all of UPADI’s 16 Technical Committees,” says Aridai Herrera, A.M.ASCE. “The technical committees [provide] access to key decision makers and distinguished global-engineering professional members, [and] present every ASCE member [with] an exciting opportunity to serve as a catalyst for change through a multinational-collaboration approach [to] the improvement of the quality of life of all citizens of the Western Hemisphere.”

Partnering with ASCE in presenting this workshop, entitled “Engineering Education for the Americas: Quality, Growth and Partnerships,” were the National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), which chairs the UPADI Education Committee.

UPADI, of which ASCE is a member, was formed in 1949 to facilitate the cooperation of countries in North, South, and Central America and the Caribbean toward the advancement of science and technology for the benefit of humanity. Representing more than 2 million engineers in all engineering specialties in 26 counties in the Western Hemisphere, UPADI promotes “cooperative” solutions to engineering, economic, and social challenges through its annual meeting.

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