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The Missing Basics: Philosophical Reflections on a Complete Engineering Education David E. Goldberg Illinois Foundry for I...
Engineering Education Reform in the Air <ul><li>Engineering education incomplete. </li></ul><ul><li>Many calls for reform....
Begin with the End in Mind: Senior Design <ul><li>Senior design as way to see the end. </li></ul><ul><li>General Engineeri...
A Special Moment: Ready, Set, Go <ul><li>These are seniors. </li></ul><ul><li>Should be engineers on the threshold. </li><...
Failure 1: Inability to Ask <ul><li>Don’t know how to frame or ask good questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty probing th...
Failure 2: Inability to Label <ul><li>Don’t know names of common systems, assemblies, and components of technology. </li><...
Failure 3: Inability to Model <ul><li>Don’t know how to model conceptually: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As causal chain. </li></...
Failure 4: Inability to Decompose <ul><li>Don’t know how to decompose big problem into little problems. </li></ul><ul><li>...
Failure 5: Inability to Measure <ul><li>Don’t know how to measure stuff or collect data. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering tau...
Failure 6: Inability to Visualize/Ideate <ul><li>Don’t know how to draw sketches or diagrams when helpful. </li></ul><ul><...
Failure 7: Inability to Communicate <ul><li>Finally finish the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t know how to present or wri...
The Missing Basics vs. the Basics <ul><li>“ The Basics:” math, science, engineering science. </li></ul><ul><li>Missing bas...
Do Engineers Need the Missing Basics? <ul><li>Yes!! </li></ul><ul><li>Three reasons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineering is ...
Engineering is More than Math & Science <ul><li>Postwar: Engineering is applied science. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Von Karman:...
Flat Worlds, Creativity & Missed Revolutions <ul><li>The paradigm was OK for WW2 & Cold War. </li></ul><ul><li>Now a creat...
Great Engineers Need Great Qual Skills <ul><li>Argument: Missing basics essential to being a great engineer. </li></ul><ul...
Bottom Line <ul><li>Summing up: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Senior design as way to recognize missing basics. </li></ul></ul><ul...
fPET-2010: Philosophy & Engineering <ul><li>2010 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology (fPET-2010), 9-10 May 2010,...
More Information <ul><li>iFoundry:  http://ifoundry.illinois.edu   </li></ul><ul><li>Talk:  http://www.slideshare.net/deg5...
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The Missing Basics: Philosophical Reflections on a Complete Engineering Education

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David E. Goldberg's presentation at ASCE National Convention, 30 October 2009, in session on Philosophy & Civil Engineering

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The Missing Basics: Philosophical Reflections on a Complete Engineering Education

  1. 1. The Missing Basics: Philosophical Reflections on a Complete Engineering Education David E. Goldberg Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Urbana, IL 61801 USA [email_address] © David E. Goldberg 2009
  2. 2. Engineering Education Reform in the Air <ul><li>Engineering education incomplete. </li></ul><ul><li>Many calls for reform. </li></ul><ul><li>Many lists the same: More “design,” “people” skills, “communication.” </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty resist “soft” skills as not “rigorous” </li></ul><ul><li>Here argue that problem is in part philosophical . </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering does not understand itself well enough to properly cultivate its young: ontologically or methodologically. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  3. 3. Begin with the End in Mind: Senior Design <ul><li>Senior design as way to see the end. </li></ul><ul><li>General Engineering at UIUC established in 1921. </li></ul><ul><li>Grinter report of 1955: more math & science, less design. </li></ul><ul><li>UCLA conference 1962. </li></ul><ul><li>Ford Foundation grant 1966. </li></ul><ul><li>Money ran out 1971. </li></ul><ul><li>Industrial funding supports thereafter. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 Stephen R. Covey (b. 1932)
  4. 4. A Special Moment: Ready, Set, Go <ul><li>These are seniors. </li></ul><ul><li>Should be engineers on the threshold. </li></ul><ul><li>Express preferences for projects. </li></ul><ul><li>Get assigned to a project: 3-member teams & faculty advisor. </li></ul><ul><li>Go on the plant trip. </li></ul><ul><li>Query: What don’t they know how to do? </li></ul><ul><li>20 years of coaching, here’s my list. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  5. 5. Failure 1: Inability to Ask <ul><li>Don’t know how to frame or ask good questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Difficulty probing the problem. </li></ul><ul><li>Trouble querying what has been tried. </li></ul><ul><li>Problem learning about vendors and sources of information. </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: Socrates 101. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 Socrates (470-399 BCE)
  6. 6. Failure 2: Inability to Label <ul><li>Don’t know names of common systems, assemblies, and components of technology. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineers as technologically illiterate. </li></ul><ul><li>Worse: Difficulty labeling new artifact concepts or models. </li></ul><ul><li>Mainly comfortable with familiar categories and objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: Aristotle 101. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 Aristotle (384-322 BCE)
  7. 7. Failure 3: Inability to Model <ul><li>Don’t know how to model conceptually: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As causal chain. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>As categorical list of types or kinds. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pavlovian dogs when it comes to equations. </li></ul><ul><li>Need to understand problem qualitatively in words and diagrams prior to quantitative modeling undertaking. </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: Hume 101 or Aristotle 102. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 David Hume (1711-1776)
  8. 8. Failure 4: Inability to Decompose <ul><li>Don’t know how to decompose big problem into little problems. </li></ul><ul><li>Looking for magic bullets in equations of motion. </li></ul><ul><li>Most projects too hard: Companies don’t pay $9500 for plugging into Newton’s laws. </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: Descartes 101? </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 René Descartes (1596-1650)
  9. 9. Failure 5: Inability to Measure <ul><li>Don’t know how to measure stuff or collect data. </li></ul><ul><li>Engineering taught as abstract math/science exercise. </li></ul><ul><li>Ignore benefit of direct measurement. </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: Locke 101 or Bacon 101? </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 John Locke (1632-1704)
  10. 10. Failure 6: Inability to Visualize/Ideate <ul><li>Don’t know how to draw sketches or diagrams when helpful. </li></ul><ul><li>Have trouble envisioning solutions. </li></ul><ul><li>Graphics education greatly diminished. </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: da Vinci or Monge 101. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  11. 11. Failure 7: Inability to Communicate <ul><li>Finally finish the project. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t know how to present or write for business. </li></ul><ul><li>“ What we have here is a failure to communicate.” </li></ul><ul><li>Historical terms: Newman 101. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009 Paul Newman (1925-2008)
  12. 12. The Missing Basics vs. the Basics <ul><li>“ The Basics:” math, science, engineering science. </li></ul><ul><li>Missing basics (MBs): questioning, labeling, modeling conceptually, decomposing, measuring, visualizing/ideating, & communicating. </li></ul><ul><li>MBs as more basic than “the basics.” </li></ul><ul><li>No surprise: 5th century BC in Athens as pivotal place & moment in human thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>MBs as keys to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lifelong learning. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>interdisciplinarity. </li></ul></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  13. 13. Do Engineers Need the Missing Basics? <ul><li>Yes!! </li></ul><ul><li>Three reasons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Engineering is more than math & science. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>World is flat: Training category enhancers in world of category creators. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative reasoning necessary for great engineering, not just creating “cultured” or “well-rounded” people. </li></ul></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  14. 14. Engineering is More than Math & Science <ul><li>Postwar: Engineering is applied science. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Von Karman: “A scientist discovers that which exists. An engineer creates that which never was.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Koen: Engineering is heuristics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pitt: Technology is “humanity at work.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mesthene: Technology is “the organization of knowledge for achievement of practical purpose.” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Here: “Engineering is the social practice of conceiving, designing, implementing, producing, & sustaining complex artifacts, processes, or systems appropriate to some recognized need.” </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  15. 15. Flat Worlds, Creativity & Missed Revolutions <ul><li>The paradigm was OK for WW2 & Cold War. </li></ul><ul><li>Now a creative era, a flat world. </li></ul><ul><li>Missed revolutions since WW2: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Entrepreneurial revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IT revolution. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Educate enhancers not creators. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  16. 16. Great Engineers Need Great Qual Skills <ul><li>Argument: Missing basics essential to being a great engineer. </li></ul><ul><li>Not arguing for fluffy humanities & SS courses to make “well-rounded” or “cultured” individuals. </li></ul><ul><li>Seek qual-quant balance for great engineering. </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  17. 17. Bottom Line <ul><li>Summing up: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Senior design as way to recognize missing basics. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Missing basics: 7 things engineers don’t learn. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 reasons MBs important. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Philosophical reflection is key to (a) righting past errors and (b) as key to conceptual rigor for subjects otherwise rejected as “soft.” </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking qual-quant balance for great engineering not “culture” or “well-roundedness.” </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  18. 18. fPET-2010: Philosophy & Engineering <ul><li>2010 Forum on Philosophy, Engineering & Technology (fPET-2010), 9-10 May 2010, Sunday evening to Monday, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO. </li></ul><ul><li>One-day intensive event. </li></ul><ul><li>50-50 philosophers and engineers. </li></ul><ul><li>Grows out of earlier events WPE-2007 & WPE-2008. </li></ul><ul><li>www.philengtech.org </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009
  19. 19. More Information <ul><li>iFoundry: http://ifoundry.illinois.edu </li></ul><ul><li>Talk: http://www.slideshare.net/deg511 </li></ul><ul><li>EotF2.0: http://engineerofthefuture.olin.edu </li></ul><ul><li>iFoundry YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/illinoisfoundry </li></ul><ul><li>iFoundry SlideShare: http://www.slideshare.net/ifoundry </li></ul><ul><li>TEE, the book. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470007230.html </li></ul><ul><li>fPET-2010: www.philengtech.org or www.twitter.com/philengtech </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter: www.twitter.com/deg511 , www.twitter.com/ifoundry </li></ul>© David E. Goldberg 2009

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