Polytechnic Education: A Key to Regional Economic Development

Preston Mercer, PhD, Judith Ponticell, PhD

Synesis: A Journal of Science, Technology, Ethics, and Policy 2012; 3(1):T45-51

Increasingly, institutes of higher education are being influenced by state and local governments to demonstrate “value for money,” particularly in the offering of “occupational-professional” programs, as well as producing educational, technological and scientific accomplishments associated with innovation and economic prosperity. This market-based utilitarianism (which differs from the liberal arts traditions of education) has led public and private institutions to develop and implement new “polytechnic” campuses, thought to specifically address these goals. A typical polytechnic strategic plan emphasizes an interdisciplinary campus environment, innovative instructional technologies, experiential and applied problem-based learning, applied research, disciplinary convergence, and community and global engagement, so that sustainable educational and economic progress can be demonstrated. Of particular interest to students and faculties in polytechnics is the emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education - where applied learning, research and technology prepare students to be innovators and entrepreneurs in knowledge-based economies by more closely connecting academia with industry.


Key words: Polytechnic, STEM, economic development, experiential learning, interdisciplinary problem solving