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The Board of Education Advisory Councils

Clarifying Technology/Engineering Education

Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, and Other Interested Parties
David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education
April 2003


The Board of Education approved the revised Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework in May 2001. The technology/engineering section of the framework has been highly praised by engineering organizations at both the national and local level. Most recently, the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council referred to this framework in their national report, Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology. This framework should be shared among administrators, curriculum coordinators, science departments, and technology/engineering education departments.

Frequently there is confusion in districts and schools when defining technology/engineering education. Technology/engineering education is a separate discipline with its own sets of both state and national standards, just as science and mathematics have their own standards. Technology/engineering education refers to the use of the "engineering design process" to design, create, test and assess prototypes and products. This process is accomplished with the hands-on application of science, mathematics, and engineering concepts and the safe use of tools, materials, and processes.

Although the term technology is often used by itself to describe the educational application of computers in a classroom, instructional technology is a subset of the much broader field of technology. Computers are one of many important tools used in teaching technology/engineering. In addition, instructional technology has its own set of standards and its own license, making it distinct from technology/engineering education.

All areas of study should be taught by teachers who are certified in that discipline. Because of the hands-on active nature of the technology/engineering environment, it is strongly recommended that technology/engineering classes be taught in the middle and high school by teachers who are licensed in this area, and who are very familiar with the safe use of tools and machines. Subject knowledge requirements for the Technology/Engineering (Levels: 5-12) license include:

  1. Nature of engineering and technology systems
  2. Engineering concepts in specific fields: manufacturing, construction, communication, power, energy, and transportation technologies
  3. Engineering design and technology development process
  4. How to use tools, machinery, and materials properly and safely
  5. Environmental effects of technology/engineering
  6. Skill in technical reading and writing
  7. Requisite topics in mathematics and physical sciences

As part of the licensure renewal process, teachers who already have their license in technology education, will receive the newer license in technology/engineering.

The Massachusetts technology/engineering standards have received much recognition from a variety of venues and serves as a national model. Please help with the implementation of quality technology/engineering programs by ensuring that you are familiar with the distinctions between technology/engineering, science, and instructional technology and please help others better understand them through your own communications.

Last Updated: April 28, 2003
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