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Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn
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Case Version: What Engineers Don't Learn

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This talk, presented at Case Western Reserve University on Friday, 20 February 2009, as part of the Latest Word Seminar Series, discusses (1) 7 qualitative thinking skills engineers don't learn (the …

This talk, presented at Case Western Reserve University on Friday, 20 February 2009, as part of the Latest Word Seminar Series, discusses (1) 7 qualitative thinking skills engineers don't learn (the missing basics), (2) 5 reasons they don't learn them, and (3) considers ways to fix the problem organizationally, philosophically, and politically.

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  • 1. What Engineers Don’t Learn & Why They Don’t Learn It: A Cold War Curriculum in a Creative Era & How to Fix It David E. Goldberg Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, IL 61801 USA [email_address]
  • 2. Engineering Reform is in the Air
    • Many calls for reform.
    • Many lists the same:
      • Need more “design.”
      • Need more “soft” people skills.
      • Need better “communications.”
    • Change has come slowly, if at all.
    • Steadfast defense of “the basics” against foreign invaders.
    • Reflect on missing elements & why they’re missing.
    • Especially important in our creative times.
    • A warning.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 3. Roadmap
    • Reflections upon 19 years coaching industrial-sponsored senior design.
    • 7 things engineers don’t learn.
    • 5 reasons they don’t learn them: philosophical, historical, organizational, systemic & economic.
    • Moving the larger system: Political realignment for organizational realignment.
    • Philosophy as realignment aid.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 4. General Engineering & Sr Design
    • General Engineering at UIUC established in 1921 following curriculum study.
    • Grinter report of 1954 led to more math and engineering science at expense of design.
    • UCLA conference 1962.
    • Ford Foundation grant 1966.
    • Money ran out 1971.
    • Industrial funding supports thereafter.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 Jerry S. Dobrovolny
  • 5. Ready, Set, Go
    • These are seniors.
    • Should be engineers on the threshold.
    • Express preferences for projects.
    • Get assigned to a project: 3-member teams & faculty advisor.
    • Go on the plant trip.
    • Query: What don’t they know how to do?
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 6. Failure 1: Inability to Ask
    • Don’t know how to frame or ask good questions.
    • Difficulty probing the problem.
    • Trouble following what has been tried.
    • Problems finding out vendors and sources of information.
    • Historical terms: Socrates 101.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 Socrates (470-399 BCE)
  • 7. Failure 2: Inability to Label
    • Don’t know names of common systems, assemblies, and components of technology.
    • Difficulty labeling new artifact concepts or models.
    • Linguistically naïve.
    • Mainly comfortable with familiar categories and objects.
    • Historical terms: Aristotle 101.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
  • 8. Failure 3: Inability to Model
    • Don’t know how to model conceptually:
      • Causal chain.
      • Categorize according to list of types or kinds.
    • Pavlovian dogs when it comes to equations.
    • Need to understand problem qualitatively in words and diagrams prior to quantitative modeling undertaken.
    • Historical terms: Hume 101 or Aristotle 102.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 David Hume (1711-1776)
  • 9. Failure 4: Inability to Decompose
    • Don’t know how to decompose big problem into little problems.
    • Look for magic bullets in equations of motion.
    • Most projects too hard: Companies don’t pay $8500 for plugging into Newton’s laws.
    • Historical terms: Descartes 101?
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 René Descartes (1596-1650)
  • 10. Failure 5: Inability to Measure
    • Don’t know how to measure stuff.
    • Engineering taught as abstract math/science exercise.
    • Ignore benefit of direct measurement.
    • Historical terms: Locke 101 or Bacon 101?
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 John Locke (1632-1704)
  • 11. Failure 6: Inability to Draw/Visualize
    • Don’t know how to draw sketches or diagrams when helpful.
    • Have difficulty with detailed drawings.
    • Graphics education greatly diminished.
    • Historical terms: da Vinci or Monge 101.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 12. Failure 7: Inability to Communicate
    • Finally finish the project.
    • Don’t know how to present or write for business.
    • “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
    • Historical terms: Newman 101.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 Paul Newman (1925-2008)
  • 13. Missing Basics a Quality Failure
    • After 4 years they don’t know how to
      • Question: Socrates 101.
      • Label: Aristotle 101.
      • Model conceptually: Hume 101 & Aristotle 102.
      • Decompose: Descartes 101.
      • Measure: Bacon-Locke 101.
      • Visualize/draw: da Vinci-Monge 101.
      • Communicate: Newman 101
    • Call these the missing basics (MBs) vs. “the basics” = math, sci, & eng sci.
    • Missing basics are in some sense more basic than “the basics.”
    • MBs as quality failure.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 14. What Can They Do?
    • Can plug & chug in Newton’s laws, Maxwell’s equations, and calculate big O & rigorous upper bound.
    • Can talk about limited categories of tech discussed in class.
    • Can’t think qualitatively or reflectively.
    • Heidegger’s beef: Science/tech as merely calculative.
    • Here, not calling for contemplation outside of discipline.
    • MBs not add ons.
    • Qualitative thinking skill as central to problem solving & creativity within discipline.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008 Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
  • 15. Why Don’t They Learn MBs?
    • Five reasons:
      • Got stuck in cold war paradigm (historical).
      • Mistook math-science for engineering (philosophical).
      • Ignored organizational barriers (organizational).
      • Believed isolated education scholarship & pedagogy results in effective reform (systemic).
      • Ignored costs of reform proposals (economic).
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 16. Cold War Curriculum in Creative Era
    • In final days of Vannevar Bush era.
    • Science: The Endless Frontier, set stage for NSF & research.
    • Engineers accepted notion (myth?) that “science won the war.”
    • 1954 Grinter report spurred injection of math & science, reduction in design & practice.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 17. Kuhn, Paradigms & Engin School
    • “ Paradigm” traces to The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in 1962.
    • Argued that science proceeds in fits and starts, not gradually.
    • Old paradigms, ways of thinking about the world, are overturned by revolutions, not gradually.
    Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)
  • 18. Paradigm of Tech Academy
    • Following assumptions sacrosanct:
      • Basic engineering science key to success.
      • Government funds superior to industry $$$.
      • Demonstrate mettle as individuals with peer-reviewed journal papers in specialty.
    • Question any  stare, derision & ridicule.
    • These beliefs are not scientific.
    • Paradigm of 50s-present.
    • Code words: “the basics,” “rigorous,” & “soft.”
    • Invoking code words not an argument.
  • 19. Creative Era & Missed Revolutions
    • The paradigm was OK for WW2 & Cold War.
    • Now a creative era, a flat world.
    • Missed revolutions since WW2:
      • Quality revolution.
      • Entrepreneurial revolution.
      • IT revolution.
    • Teach the “revolutions,” but do not integrate lessons into academy or curriculum.
  • 20. A Technoeconomic Framework
    • Place revolutions in framework of underlying causes.
    • Missed revolutions enabled by technoeconomic effects:
      • Transport and communication improvements.
      • Network effects.
      • Transaction costs.
    • Puts past in perspective & project future trends .
    Karl Marx (1818-1883)
  • 21. No Philosophy of Engineering
    • Ontology, epistemology, and reasoning not taught, discussed.
    • Assumed to come from “the basics.”
    • “ Design” as abused term & mysterious process.
    • The 7 not usually articulated as fundamental to design.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 22. What is Engineering?
    • Engineering is the social practice of conceiving, designing, implementing, producing, & sustaining complex technological artifacts, processes, or systems.
    • Artifacts primary end.
    • Science & math are among tools used for artifact conception & support.
    • Social practice  Engineered by and for people.
    • Social side as important as the physics: Searle’s distinctions.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 23. 3Space as Balanced Curriculum © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 24. ThingSpace as Example © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 25. Organizational Change Ignored
    • Academic NIMBY problem.
    • NIMBY = Not in my backyard.
    • “ It is OK to change the curriculum…”
    • “… .as long as you leave my course alone.”
    • Politics of logrolling: You support my not changing. I support your not changing.
    • Even though agreement for change is widespread, specific changes are resisted.
  • 26. : Org Innovation for Change
    • Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education:
      • Separate pilot unit/incubator. Permit change.
      • Collaboration. Large, key ugrad programs work together. Easier approval if shared.
      • Connections. Hook to depts, NAE, ABET (?), industry.
      • Volunteers. Enthusiasm for change among participants.
      • Existing authority. Use signatory authority for modification of curricula for immediate pilot.
      • Respect faculty governance. Get pilot permission from the dept. and go back to faculty for vote after pilot change
      • Assessment. Built-in assessment to overcome objections back home.
      • Scalability. Past attempts at change like Olin fail to scale at UIUC and other big schools.
    • www.ifoundry.illinois.edu
  • 27. Pedagogy & Ed Research Insufficient
    • Pedagogical improvement & ed scholarship is fundamental response of reform movement.
    • Teaching/assessing wrong stuff well a poor solution.
      • Experiential & project-based learning is cure in many reform efforts.
      • These effective because instructors coach really engineering knowledge & skill.
    • Teaching right stuff in balky organization doesn’t go far.
    • No magic bullet here.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 28. Teach More Design & Projects
    • Again, a pedagogical response to a systems problem.
    • This works well (and is terrific step) toward fixing problem.
    • But design is usually taught in studio setting or project course.
    • OK for 300, but what about 5700, and a continuing commitment to research?
    • Cannot assume heroics or fundamental cultural shift.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 29. Economics of Reform Ignored
    • Reform efforts ignore continuing costs of pilot efforts.
    • Utopian hopes that research faculty will return to their love of undergraduate classroom.
    • Lecture is much maligned.
    • Lectures are cheap.
      • Low preparation costs.
      • Lost coordination costs.
    • Not arguing for lectures alone.
    • Am recommending hard look at costs & scalability: 300 versus 5700.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 30. Moving the Larger System
    • Engineering education is a larger, complex system.
    • Organizational realignment needs political realignment as pressure sustaining change.
    • A grassroots approach:
      • Olin-Illinois Partnership (OIP).
      • Summit on the Engineer of the Future 2.0 (EotF2.0)
      • Alliance for Promoting Innovation in Engineering Education (APIE2).
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 31. Olin-Illinois Partnership
    • Engineer of the Future Workshop , September 2007 (University of Illinois).
    • Sherra Kerns (Olin) one of two keynote speakers.
    • Continuing conversations & drafting of MOU for Olin-Illinois Partnership (OIP) in summer 2008.
    • MOU signing 12 Sept 08.
    • Planning for EotF2.0 began shortly thereafter.
    William Wulf (b. 1939)
  • 32. EotF2.0 & APIE2
    • Summit on the Engineer of the Future 2.0.
    • 31 Mar – 1 Apr 2009 (T evening – W).
    • Keynote: Karan Watson (TAMU)
    • Engineers of the future.
    • Breakout sessions.
    • Attendance limited.
    • Formation of Alliance for Promoting Innovation in Engineering Education.
    • Sign Transformation Proclamation at EotF2.0 event.
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 33. Philosophy as Realignment Tool
    • Talk has used philosophical modes of thought & argumentation.
    • Philosophy as
      • Tool for category error diagnosis & conceptual clarity.
      • Qualitative reasoning skill for educating engineers.
      • Alternative form of rigor to science & math.
      • Status enhancement device.
    • Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering: http://www-illigal.ge.uiuc.edu/wpe
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 34. Bottom Line
    • Summing up:
      • Senior design as way in.
      • 7 things engineers don’t learn.
      • Connections to intellectual history.
      • 5 reasons why engineers don’t learn these things now or why they are hard to reform.
    • Organizational, philosophy, and political modes of thought have roles to play in realignment.
    • Complex system can move with pressures in- and outside the academy.
    • Controversial: Make arguments, don’t merely invoke the “paradigm” & the “basics.”
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 35. A Course to Consider
    • Big fan of Teaching Company, www.teach12.com .
    • Argumentation course a good, practical, introduction to theory and practice of argument.
    • David Zarefsky, Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, 2nd Edition
    © David E. Goldberg 2008
  • 36. More Information
    • iFoundry: http://ifoundry.illinois.edu
    • EotF2.0: http://engineerofthefuture.olin.edu
    • iFoundry YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/illinoisfoundry
    • iFoundry SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/ifoundry
    • TEE, the book. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470007230.html
    • TEE, the blog. www.entrepreneurialengineer.blogspot.com
    • TEE, the course. http://online.engr.uiuc.edu/webcourses/ge498tee/index.html
    • MTV, the course. http://online.engr.uiuc.edu/webcourses/ge498tv/index.html
    • Engineering and Technology Studies at Illinois (ETSI) http://www-illigal.ge.uiuc.edu/ETSI
    • 2008 Workshop on Philosophy & Engineering (WPE) http://www-illigal.ge.uiuc.edu/wpe

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