Policy Analysis

ASEE Board Recognizes Physics as Vital to Engineering Education

September 16, 2015

The Board of Directors for the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) recently adopted the following statement:
“The ASEE Board endorses the recognition that academic preparation for high school students hoping to complete a college degree in engineering or engineering technology should include a full year each of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The year of mathematics should be at least to the pre-calculus level; a year of calculus is preferred.”

Engineering, which relies on the fundamental principles of physics, provides a rewarding career pathway and is a vital cog in America’s innovation economy. With the jobs of the future demanding even greater science proficiency, we have much work to do. In 2013, for example, only 1.37 percent of high school graduates took and passed the AP Physics B exam; and just 0.78 percent passed the AP Physics C exam. These rates are simply unacceptable in a 21st century economy dependent on a STEM-educated workforce.

To address the alarming statistics, it is essential that high schools offer physics courses ubiquitously, and that they recruit highly qualified instructors to teach them. We need solidarity between educators in different STEM disciplines to make the kinds of changes in K-12 education that will equip students to find jobs in an innovation economy.

The ASEE board just took a great step in the right direction, and APS looks forward to working with ASEE on other education issues in the future.

Policy news and viewpoints for the physics community. The analysis and opinions are those of the APS Office of Public Affairs and do not necessarily represent the entire Society.