Smart questions
Smart answers
Smart people
Join Eng-Tips Forums

Member Login

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Join Us!

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips now!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

Join Eng-Tips
*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.
Jobs from Indeed

Link To This Forum!

Partner Button
Add Stickiness To Your Site By Linking To This Professionally Managed Technical Forum.
Just copy and paste the
code below into your site.

Gumpmaster (Structural) (OP)
18 Feb 13 19:30
Where is engineering going? Down the tubes is the only place I can guess.

Some in the USA are trying to put the arts on par with engineering:

Oregonian STEAM Article

STEAM not STEM website

-So, should we water down our engineering education even further so we can be more artistic?
-Are arts really as important as the science and math portions of an education?
-Is this just an attempt by those with a less technical education to justify themselves?
-Does congress really need a STEAM caucus?
CheckerHater (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 8:03
So, student saying 2 + 2 = 5 will be considered “creative”?
TenPenny (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 8:06
The whole thing is a pointless exercise for politicians to hold meeting, eat food, drink coffee, make staffers write reports, and accomplish absolutely nothing. That's what politicians and their staff do, write reports, research position papers, and eat and travel on the taxpayers' dime.

At the end of the day, the actual accomplishments are generally zero to negative, but lots of meetings are held.
CheckerHater (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 8:56
So, all the "steam" will go into whistle? Sorry, just couldn't resist.
SnTMan (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 9:02
Ehhhh, art it's easy. There's no specs. Do whatever you want...


Gumpmaster (Structural) (OP)
19 Feb 13 11:04
Sometimes my structures are like modern art. Free form, make no sense, purposeless. People don't like them only because my genius is beyond them.

I can only think that politicians having a direct influence on engineering education will be a bad thing. I can't think of any benefits it will have.
rb1957 (Aerospace)
19 Feb 13 11:08
"where is engineering going?" ... off-shore ... india, china, brazil, ...

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

rb1957 (Aerospace)
19 Feb 13 11:13
STEAM successfully diverts the technical focus of STEM ...

but then i guess that's the objective ... to make it more "inclusive"

Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati

JohnRBaker (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 11:53
For those who might feel that 'art' has a minimal role in engineering and manufacturing today may I suggest that see the documentary 'Objectified' by Gary Hustwit. For more information about this film, go to:

If you want to learn more, go to...

...where you can watch the 'trailer' as well as rent or buy the movie itself.

And if you like this film may I also suggest the other two films in Gary Hustwit's so-called 'design-trilogy', 'Helvetica' and 'Urbanized':

And if you're a real 'gearhead', you'll love 'Linotype: The Film' by Doug Wilson:

Anyway, enjoy.

DISCLAIMER: I have NO financial interest in any of these films. They are offered solely based on my opinion that they are interesting enough that more people should see them for their insight into our world and how we've put our mark on it.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Helpful Member!  SnTMan (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 12:37
I am talking primarily about "consumer" products here...

I don't think there is any lack of "creativity" these days. What I think there is, is a lack of practical consideration of living with the product. With the advent of solid modelers and CNC manufacturing everything is swoopy, curvy, colorful and overmolded. Everything looks like a bug.

Ever try stacking up your bug-like objects? They don't, and if they do there is a lot of wasted space. The swoopy, curvy, overmolded toothbrush handles are too big to fit in a normal holder. I've got cordless tool chargers that the battery hangs over the edge of the charger, takes up unnecessary space. Why not turn the battery around?. The off-grey 1/16" lettering on my black electronics is only readable in the mid-day sun. The LCD screen on my cell-phone is not readable in any kind of daylight at all.

How about puzzling out the minor controls in the next rent car you're in? Why are they not standardized? "Travel mugs" are so top heavy and small at the base that they need to be in a cup-holder even in the house.

Never mind the cost pressures applied. I could go on I suppose...



stanweld (Materials)
19 Feb 13 12:42
Many designs should be considered art, especially great designs. Engineers provide realization of the design but not all engineers are good designers or inovators. If exposure to the arts, especially the design arts, produce more inovative engineers, it's not a bad idea.
JohnRBaker (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 13:16

Quote (SnTMan)

What I think there is, is a lack of practical consideration of living with the product.

Then you DEFINITELY would enjoy watching the documentary 'Objectified' mentioned in my previous post since that's the basic message of the film.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

SnTMan (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 13:52
JohnR, I'll give it a look when I get the time...
dicksewerrat (Civil/Environmental)
19 Feb 13 15:55
I think we should do this. Once the engineers can add art, we can get start to practice architecture.

Richard A. Cornelius, P.E.

CheckerHater (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 16:22

Quote (Obligatory)

This quote is usually attributed to David Hilbert, German mathematician:
'One of Hilbert's students stopped showing up to classes. On enquiring the reason, Hilbert was told that the student had left the university to become a poet. Hilbert:"I can't say I'm surprised. I never thought he had enough imagination to be a mathematician."'
MiketheEngineer (Structural)
19 Feb 13 17:36
I have been in Engineering for almost 40 years. Graduated when NASA was winding down the Apollo missions. They all said I was dumb as there were like 50,000 engineers being let go. I have always made at least a good and right now a very good living. Engineering will NEVER go away. And I can retire in five years!!
JohnRBaker (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 19:25
I've been in engineering for nearly 47 years (if you count my co-op time) and am looking forward to retiring in maybe 2 years or so (I might hold out for that 50 year 'anniversary') and like you, have always made a good living and still am, which is partly why I've not been tempted to take an early retirement.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

dvd (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 19:50
There are more famous artists than famous engineers, not counting those of us on this website, of course....

I like art: I would like to be an artist. I think that encouraging young people to look at destinations off of the beaten path is not a bad idea. Engineering only solves certain types of problems, and only in a certain way. There are too many people to have all of us/them go into engineering, so why not present alternatives that could keep the engineering ranks more "pure"? I believe it is a better idea than encouraging young people to blindly charge into the medical professions.
KENAT (Mechanical)
19 Feb 13 20:53
So, if students haven't been learning STEM subjects, and haven't been learning Arts, then what have they been spending their time on?

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

Gumpmaster (Structural) (OP)
20 Feb 13 9:29
Kenat, the big ones at my local university are the liberal arts and "sports science".

I'm not sure that liberal arts are an actual art.

I know that "sports science" isn't actual science. It's a fancy name for PE teacher.
sdebock (Bioengineer)
20 Feb 13 9:55

Quote (Steven K. Roberts)

Art without engineering is dreaming. Engineering without art is calculating.

Who is the artist? The architect who designs a building of steel and glass, or the structural engineer who builds it?

Example building

You don's see many people interviewing structural engineer Yasutaka Konishi, but everybody is in awe of the amazing architect "who designed the building".
But I guess the engineer got paid enough ;)
KENAT (Mechanical)
20 Feb 13 10:21
Gumpmaster, I presumed that anything that earns you a BA was an artwinky smile.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

CheckerHater (Mechanical)
20 Feb 13 11:12
It actually does exist: link
Helpful Member!(4)  rconnor (Mechanical)
20 Feb 13 11:53
The concept behind the "A" in STEAM is not to make sure engineers can design more unnecessarily elaborate, convoluted, and "prettier" machines. Nor is the idea to make engineering education easier or "watered-down" (the concept relates to high schools more than it does university curriculums by the way). The idea is that they foster the creativity required to attack new problems and develop innovative solutions. When this creativity is coupled with the technical understanding to actually develops those solutions, it makes for an effective combination.

Carl Sagan, as he so often did, said it best:
"We wish to pursue the truth no matter where it leads. But to find the truth, we need imagination and skepticism both."

However, I don't believe the current problem is that there is not enough right-brain education but that science and math is currently taught to students in such a soulless, sterile, fact-memorization-to-pass-a-test manner. We wring out any natural curiosity and sense of wonder that kids come into the science classroom with. It’s a sad truth but our science education system is the single greatest deterrent to kids wanting to become scientists and engineers (note: I don’t blame teachers, at least not all of them as a whole, but the current curriculum).

The body of science is, to me, the crown jewel of human accomplishment. Our ability to comprehend concepts on astronomic and atomic scales, which are so far beyond what our naturally evolved senses are tuned to, is such a marvelous tribute to our species. The science classroom should be a place where these accomplishments are celebrated and the awe and wonder of science is instilled in kids. Instead we beat formulas into them, with no context of how they were developed or why they are beautiful and important.

Oddly enough, the history classroom is trying to make in-roads into this for us. There is a concept of teaching history, called Big History, which describes the story of our past from the big bang, through stellar evolution, planet formation, biological evolution and human development. Not only does this foster a profound sense of interest in science, it also has sociological benefits as well. Teaching kids the concept that not only are we related to all other humans biological, we are connected to our planet chemically and our universe atomically (paraphrased from a Neil DeGrasse Tyson quote). This gives a sense of place and purpose to the lost, a sense of connectivity to the lonely and a sense of grandeur to the meek, three things that kids struggle with.

A couple lines after the Sagan quote I gave above he says, “The cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths; of exquisite interrelationships; of the awesome machinery of nature.” Statements like that are what we need more of in our science education...
Helpful Member!  DRWeig (Electrical)
20 Feb 13 12:10

Quote (KENAT)

So, if students haven't been learning STEM subjects, and haven't been learning Arts, then what have they been spending their time on?

Business and Law, the two most populous colleges at most major universities in the US.

That's a couple hundred thousand (my guess) new graduates each year whose career goals are to either limit our income (MBA) or take our income away completely (JD, LLD). Both groups, of course, will be pocketing the lion's share of what they suck from our wallets.

Best to you,

Goober Dave

Haven't see the forum policies? Do so now: Forum Policies

CheckerHater (Mechanical)
20 Feb 13 14:00
Acquaintance of mine got a job as teacher of Physics in college. To his astonishment he found that there are no pre-requisites for the course. That is – no mathematical background required.
So he had to teach Physics without using formulas, otherwise students would complain. I wonder if more Art could help…
kingnero (Mechanical)
21 Feb 13 6:55
how do you teach physics without usng any formulas?
I can see it happen: Archimedes discovered how buoyancy worked (works) by taking a bath, where some of the water was displaced by some of the volume of hos body...
and yet could separate pure gold from a gold-silver alloy by measuring the difference in overflowed water. if he was raised without formulae, the King would still be wearing a cheap, knock-off crown! (remember, greater-than and equal-to and such are formulae!)
Helpful Member!  SomptingGuy (Automotive)
21 Feb 13 8:35

That's the engineering equivalent of a "recipe" for cooks. Don't understand why it works, but willing to use it anyway.

To teach physics, you need to teach relationships and let the students derive formulae from them whenever required.

- Steve

CheckerHater (Mechanical)
21 Feb 13 9:52
The problem is, in order to "derive" formula you have first to know what formula is.

No wonder there are more good recipes than good cooks...
Helpful Member!  Twoballcane (Mechanical)
26 Feb 13 10:36
I am privileged that I have a daughter in a Math and Science Charter school and before that I was looking into STEM programs so I have some knowledge of what their curriculum is composed of. Both the charter school and STEM programs have art and history as part of their program, so I’m not sure where these instigators are coming from. However, the big difference between main stream and STEM / Charter is that there is more focus and depth on the math and sciences. Also, I have found that main stream math and science teachers are more passive in their teachings and most often education generalist than an astute professional in these fields. The STEM / Charter will most likely have a math and science teacher who was a professional in an engineering or science field. My daughter’s math teacher is a semi retired Mechanical Engineer and her biology teacher was a Biologist who worked for colleges and companies. Even the principal of the charter school is an Electrical Engineer. Now, in terms of work load in class and home work, art and history are much lighter and the math and science are much heavier. The ratio of class time to home work load for the math and sciences follows the engineer college class’s rule of thumb of one hour of class to two hours of home work.

“The science classroom should be a place where these accomplishments are celebrated and the awe and wonder of science is instilled in kids. Instead we beat formulas into them, with no context of how they were developed or why they are beautiful and important.”

Math and science is a very dry subject. It is either you have some passion for the subject or you don’t. Life both in school and as a professional you have to pass some sort of test be it an exam or your boss’s expectations on a quarterly basis. Life as a professional is about getting the job done, getting the innovation to work, and at the end, brings in the revenue. If we spend more time flowering and perfuming the subject than regimenting formulas and theory, the more we (USA) will fall back on the math, science, and engineering world stage. The leading countries kids know the subjects inside out. I’ve been at one of my daughter’s middle school math competition and guess what the majority nationality (who were American born) of the kids, yes Asian whose parents are from countries like Indian, China, and Japan. The parents who grew up with this regiment way of learning from their country instilled it into their American born children and outperforming American born parent’s children. While speaking with these parents, I have learned from them that the more hard work of solving math and science problems, the better you understand the subject versus dressing the subject up and hoping your child understands. In other words, every child is smart; it’s the hard work and regiment dedication that will set them apart.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."
“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”
"People get promoted when they provide value and when they build great relationships"

Helpful Member!(3)  rconnor (Mechanical)
26 Feb 13 17:31
I enjoyed your post Twoballcane but I do, respectfully, have to disagree with you. However, before I get into it, I think it’s important to differentiate the direction both of us are coming at this from.

Your point seems to be focused on developing those with an interest and aptitude in science/math to their full potential. My point was far more general; it was gauged towards increasing the scientific understanding/critical thinking capacity of the populous. I come from this more general viewpoint because it relates very closely to what I feel is the crux of many societal issues but that is another, much longer, story.

When it comes to training someone to mastering any skill, repetitive training or intensive exposure is important; I don’t disagree with you here. However, there is a disconnect between repetitive training of mental math problems and a good engineer, just as there is between shooting 1000 free throws a day and being an NBA all-star. Mathematical proficiency is a tool that good engineers need but a good engineer needs other tools as well as the capacity to bring them all together in an effective manner.

The problem that I have with promoting proficiency through repetition is that it yields prescriptive problem solvers. They are great for handing a difficult, yet formulaic, problem to and having them grind through it. However, they require a prescribed problem to solve; they rarely have the imagination and creativity to ask what problem should be solved and why. This, to me, is crucial to an innovative society, which is crucial to a successful society.

Now, I don’t actually think that you are saying if we get engineering students to do 1000 math problems a day, and only that, they will be better engineers. However, you do seem to, rather flippantly, dismiss the concept of promoting scientific awe in the classroom as fluff. I think you do this partly because you extrapolate my comments to mean that I want all fluff and no hard, chalk-to-board, pencil-to-paper style math and science. This is not what I’m saying. I think subjects should be structured as such:
1) Introduction to the topic
2) History of the topic, going through past mistakes and developments which lead to the current understanding
3) Why the topic is important and interesting
4) pencil-to-paper style problem solving

Currently, we skip steps 2 and 3. So when you say “math and science is a dry subject”, I understand why you say that. Step 4 may not be “fun” however it’s downright painful without steps 2 and 3. Beyond being painful, it’s also futile. Napoleon said “The more I study the world, the more I am convinced of the inability of brute force to create anything durable”.

Sure, I could get a good grade in the subject, but I can do so by doing enough problems to develop a formulaic way of solving the problem without understanding any of the content. F=ma can be solved without really understanding what “F” is.

Not teaching kids why the subject is important and beautiful is to withhold the single greatest factor in them being interested and successful in that subject. I can’t begin to guess at the number of brilliant students we’ve pushed out of math and science (and into finance…) because of our “brute force” method of teaching (as well as an ill-placed notion that monetary wealth is the ultimate form of success…but that’s another topic).

Having said all this, I think we are actually closer to agreeing with each other than it appears. We both want an educated, scientific literate society (at least enough so to make an informed vote), we both want qualified, passionate teachers educating our youth (and should agree that teachers should make more money and have more prestige) and we both see scientific development as intrinsically linked to a prospering society. Where we appear to differ is the method. I enjoy differing opinions on this subject because it gets me thinking about it and I feel it is one of the most important topics to discuss.
Twoballcane (Mechanical)
27 Feb 13 14:13
Rconnor, please take all of my post’s tone as two people sitting in a bar with drinks having a great conversation.

With that said, I do believe that the teachers do put their own spin on how to make the subject come alive and not come across in a monotone way. I’m sure they are doing what you have suggested in all four of your bullets. However, I can see this at the beginning of their teaching career, but maybe after five or ten years, they lose their enthusiasm. But, being parents, we are ultimately responsible for our children’s up bringing especially their education. I do not assume that my child’s teachers will give their one hundred percent effort to make sure my child understands the topic let alone instill passion. It is up to the parents to make up the slack. For myself, I don’t necessarily push my kids, but make sure they complete and understand all of their homework and projects. I take them to science based museums when I can. I do enjoy watching documentary shows based on math, science, and history. Since there is one tv in my house, my kids watch with me. Also, because of my work, I do show my own passion of the math and science in everyday situations and explain them to my kids. I guess that is why many children follow their parent’s career path. The parent’s passion for their career, such as engineering, will be exposed and absorbed by the child. I guess at the end, we cannot depend on our teachers to do more than what they have been trained.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."
“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”
"People get promoted when they provide value and when they build great relationships"

CheckerHater (Mechanical)
27 Feb 13 14:57

This discussion was giving me sense of déjà vu. I think I found where it’s coming from:

“'Two bodies attract each other directly as the product of their masses and inversely as the square of their distance.' It sounds like a rule for simple physical facts, does it not? Yet it is nothing of the sort; it was the poetical way the old ones bad of expressing the rule of propinquity which governs the emotion of love. The bodies referred to are human bodies, mass is their capacity for love. Young people have a greater capacity for love than the elderly; when they are thrown together, they fall in love, yet when they are separated they soon get over it.”

The future sure looks bright.
rconnor (Mechanical)
1 Mar 13 11:49

Your kids are very fortunate to have a parent so invested in their education; I was as well. I do agree that it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent (and not the teacher) to ensure their children are being raised properly.

However, I believe that a teacher does (or should) have a responsibility to motivate children to learn and not just make sure they pass a test. It's like saying that a sports coach is solely responsible to develop technical ability and tactical awareness in players. Although those things are important, an equally important (if not increasing more important) responibility of a coach is to motivate and focus players, in order to squeeze out their full potential. This is done through exuding a passion and love for the game, which the players reciprocate; it kindles their passion. (I say this from experience, I coach high level youth (soccer) players)

Like a coach, a teacher's love for the subject is contagious. Kids have a natural sense of curiosity, they thirst for understanding. A teacher's job is not just to educate on the subject but to cultivate that intrigue.

I would agree with you that, in reality, this does not happen all the time. I just believe that it should or ought to. I don't blame teachers as a whole, the education system needs work. One of the major problems is that curriculums are restrictive and outdated. They are geared towards the bare minimum and leave little room for good teachers to flourish. This leads to frustration which dulls their passion (along with crappy parents that blame teachers for their crappy parenting).

However, I see a lot of positive change in the education system where I'm from. Educators and curriculum developers are trying to be more progressive but it is meet with resistance. This resistance comes from a confusion that progressive education is "airy" and "full of fluff". People fear that the new approaches will lead to a "hippy-dippy", more entitled society (this is pretty much the same thing that the political right says about any attempt at improving social programs...).

Certainly there are extremely "open" forms of education that are just as detrimental as extremely regimented forms of education, however I don't see what is being purposed as the former. What I see is a renewed attempt to foster creativity, imagination and critical thought at the younger ages, which leads into more open-minded, eager, analytical high-schoolers (where their education is still very much so a "pencil-to-paper" style of learning).

I understand that I can come across as being rather naively idealistic at times (and I suppose I am to some extent). However, sometimes I find we, as a society, resist change purely on the, rather dogmatic, grounds that it's non-traditional.
Helpful Member!  dwallace1971 (Aerospace)
1 Mar 13 12:06
The cynic in me would say that the "A"rts folks see attention, money and resources directed toward the "STEM" folks and want to shove in their "A" in an attempt to get some of the attention, money and resources.

"On the human scale, the laws of Newtonian Physics are non-negotiable"

Helpful Member!(2)  nornrich (Mechanical)
2 Mar 13 20:01
One of the best shows I've ever seen on television was a show called "Connections" with host James Burke. He would take you from the origins of a technology, like the smelting of metal, all the way through how the various connections brought about the modern jet airplane. It was very good snapshot of the history of engineering, technology and the arts. I also had the privilege of hearing him lecture and the topic was on where the modern practice of science and engineering had gone astray.

His premise was that in the late Renaissance, when the sciences started to become more specialized and to start separating from the arts was when things started to go adrift. He makes a good case in the example of Leonardo Da Vinci. It was the Renaissance and the transition from spiritualism/emotionalism to a more empirical view of the universe that scientific progress really started to accelerate. This however wouldn’t have been possible without the foundations that were built by many generations of artisans who practiced their trades and passed down knowledge of their craft, that was built on empirical learning’s from previous generations.

I think the arts bring a sense of the romantic and passionate that is lacking in the modern practice of science and engineering. The creativity needed to solve the big hairy problems that are facing us as humans, won’t be found in formulas and equations. They will be found by those labeled as Renaissance Men (or Women). Those that have a firm understanding of the physical sciences, but can step back and appreciate the emotional/spiritual/cultural impact of the knowledge and technology that they are seeking.


Richard Nornhold, PE

Helpful Member!(6)  CheckerHater (Mechanical)
4 Mar 13 7:16
Still déjà vu all over the place

SnTMan (Mechanical)
4 Mar 13 10:24
nornrich, that was a great show. I've got them all, I believe, on VHS at home somewhere. If anybody remembers those.


SomptingGuy (Automotive)
4 Mar 13 18:51

I watched it with complete awe when it was first shown on BBC TV (I was only 11 at the time). James Burke followed it up with a number of other programs aimed at explaining the world of science, engineering, the human mind, perception and others. A great presenter, who is still with us.

- Steve

JohnRBaker (Mechanical)
4 Mar 13 23:59
I agree with respect to James Burke and his BBC programs. The other really good program was titled 'The Day the Universe Changed', the premise being that man was perfectly happy with the way he preceived the world about him to be until he learns something which changes what until then were beliefs which were held as absolute truths. One of the examples sited was a supposed conversation between a pair of Renaissance philosophers when one of them asked how was it that their ancestors were foolish enough to actually beleive that the Sun rotated about the Earth. The second philosopher then asked the first, exactly what would a person see if indeed the Sun DID rotate about the Earth that would be any different than the known situation whereas the Earth is orbiting the Sun? The answer of course is that it would look exactly the same. It was ONLY after astronomers and physicists had demonstrated that it was the Earth which rotated about Sun did the average person accept this, but the reality is that at that moment, for all of mankind, the Universe had indeed changed forever.

Note that they issued a companion book for this BBC series, which I've got a copy of. While I don't know sure I suspect that they may have issued one for the 'Connections' series as well.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Twoballcane (Mechanical)
5 Mar 13 11:29
If you are ever in NYC check this place out

I'm planning to take my kids there this summer.

Well, we can go on with different philosophies’ of teaching our kids math and science; however, I can give my observation of how the math / science charter school my daughter goes to teaches and may agree with both of us. From a well rounded perspective, math, science, english, art and history will try to coordinate around a common theme in which math and science set the lead. For example, when math and science goes into Greek inspired theory, the other subjects like english , art and history will try to coordinate Greek language, art, and history at the same time. This does not happen thru out the year, but the teachers will try to coordinate common themes in each subject. To add this holistic teaching, there is a separate (which means more money) week long class trip/camping apart from the school called Nature’s Class Room ( where they take math and science into the woods.

Now for the regiment side of the school, let’s start with the uniforms. Uniform is mandatory, everything from outer wear to the shoes. There is a uniform check every day at morning homeroom. If the child does not have the proper clothing, the child will be sent home to change. At the beginning of each class, the students stand up and greet the teacher and then the teacher greets the children. At the start of class there is a “to do now” work on the board in which the kids have to do for the first 10 minutes and will be graded. The lessons are straight forward. And then at the end of class, homework is assigned and each child has to write it down in their school supplied calendar book. Trust me; there is a lot of homework especially in math and science. For the parents, the teachers will post homework, projects, and standing grade on line for viewing. To make it feel like more like college, the teachers even have after school office hours once a week so that if the student needs more time, they can come in. As for the teachers, they are serious professionals in their own respective field of study. As said before, my daughter’s math teacher is a Mechanical Engineer and her biology teacher is a Biologist who worked for colleges and industry. They are not education generalist with a degree in Education. These teachers go more in depth in the subjects and they expect the kids to absorb and understand.

"If you avoid failure, you also avoid success."
“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”
"People get promoted when they provide value and when they build great relationships"

SnTMan (Mechanical)
13 Jun 13 13:25

So now we see that the term STEM actually has no unambiguous meaning.

A STEM job is... whatever we say it is.


2dye4 (Military)
13 Jun 13 14:56

Wow that is one stupid article.

They appear to be stretching the 'technology' part to include anything.

This guy must be a lobbyist for the 'for profit' colleges.

""Culturally, too, the sub-bachelor’s level STEM jobs are afforded little respect. Professional STEM workers receive presidential medals and Nobel prizes. The closest thing for sub-bachelor’s level STEM workers might be the Craft Professional of the Year award, given out by the Associated Builders and Contractors. This year’s winner, an electrician named Michael Arledge, received a pickup truck, but neither national press nor a Wikipedia entry.""

SnTMan (Mechanical)
13 Jun 13 15:28
Personally I'd take the pickup...

So I'm digging a hole. It is important to apply the concept of leverage to break up the dirt, and remove it from the hole. The concept of leverage involves at least the M, if not the S,T and E. So its a STEM job...




Helpful Member!(2)  jehake12 (Mechanical)
25 Jun 13 16:13

Taken from the originator's link...
“The President's proposal to commit resources to a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Master Teacher Corps was encouraging, but we can’t ignore the importance of engaging both halves of the brain,” she said.
"Creative, critical thinking leads to innovation and will help us remain competitive in a global economy.”

I think people are spending too much time in a fantasy land thinking that art classes teach anything. Art classes are indoor playgrounds providing busy work for kids that lack work ethic and only want to do "fun stuff". Art doesn't focus on critical thinking. Engineering/Math/physics focuses on critical thinking. I'm a mechanical engineer. My brain often hurts from thinking so hard. I love it. I have to think critically and make decisions for myself. I can't find the answers to my problems on Google. In contrast to the engineers and physicists I work with, the "A" majors that I work with spend their time pondering on where their next vacation will be, which restaurant has the best happy hour, should we get Pete's coffee instead of Starbucks in the break room, or did that person spell that word correctly. They rarely see the big picture or focus on the intent or ramifications of things. They are not thinkers. They push paperwork around and kill time until they can go home and play. Work is a nuisance for them.

I never found art classes in high school or college to generate creative thinkers (or anything for that matter). I don't remember seeing close minded, linear people signing up for art classes, and then next semester, see them creatively thinking about anything. I dated a few in college. It doesn't happen like that. If you want creative thinking, drink a beer or three. If you want inspiration, go out into the world. You do not need to waste your time in a classroom for that. It's far from the best approach. The most creative people I know are STEM majors. They think outside the box. They live life that way. I think its because they understand the world around them better then the "A" majors; therefor, they are empowered to manipulate it for what it could be.

"Creative, critical thinking" does lead to innovation. Its acquired by STEM courses and having a hobby or two. Please don't dilute STEM any more than it already has over the past 20+ years. If detracting from STEM and adding A had merit, wouldn't we have seen the benefit of this for the past 20+ years?

Helpful Member!  oldfieldguy (Electrical)
25 Jun 13 19:13
The "A" people in STEAM are nervous as cats. the Big Education establishment is being scrutinized from many different vantage points as students graduate with Lib Arts degrees, six-figure student loan debt and near zero employment opportunity.

When industry started clamoring for hard sciences to fill the workforce and STEM became the catchphrase, the "A" people went into panic mode trying to re-establish their relevance.

From my seat, I think they have more than a fighting chance. A lot of policy (read law and regulation) is made by people of the "A" persuasion, where the only 'science' is political 'science'. Those people control the rules that control the purse strings.

It's time to read Sons of Martha again. Kipling is prescient.

old field guy

Helpful Member!(2)  rconnor (Mechanical)
26 Jun 13 16:39
Three major issues with the last couple of posts:
1) To put it lightly (much more so than what I first wrote down), we are “encroaching” on engineering elitism. It is fine to take satisfaction in your field of study, I’d encourage it. However, never think that, by some sort of celestial right bestowed upon you by your field of study, you are superior to other fields of study. To quote Hemingway, “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self”.
2) Confusion on or ignorance of the benefit of arts education in general curriculums (more towards Jhakes post)
3) The purpose of education (more towards oldfieldguy’s post but also general commentary)

Arts Education
If you want to say, so stridently (and ignorantly), that arts education offers little to no benefit to students (and, by extension, society), you’ve got a bit of an uphill battle. You see, most education professionals, cognitive development scientist, neuroscientists and psychologist would disagree with that. These professionals don’t write papers based off anecdotally stories or observations from people they dated, they do so based off careful study in both controlled experiments and from real-world statistical results. The result: art education is instrumental in cognitive development. Just a few references to support this statement. Also, read or watch anything by Ken Robinson.

There is also a common conflation of the ease/difficulty of a class and its uselessness/importance. People see the move away from route memorization testing to more modern, exploratory learning as a means of catering to this “lazy” generation of “entitled” children/parents (they said that about my generation, my parents generation, my grandparents generation...). You hear statements like “back in my day we had to memorize X by age Y. Now a days, kids just do finger painting and get a smiley face for a grade”. Well guess what, the former was an ineffective way of teaching and the latter is just patiently false and purposely hyperbolic. This is not about getting students to work less hard, it’s about using the hard work of educators (in both academia and in the classroom) to get students to work more efficiently. It’s this conflation that prevents educators from moving in a progressive, positive direction.

Let’s also make it quite clear that I’m not defending (the absurd) No Child Left Behind Policy or other such short sighted attempts to artificially boost artificial grades. What I am advocating is progressive attempts to improve the learning and testing process from the traditional route memorization “learning” method and standardized, fact regurgitation testing. This comic perfectly encapsulates the problem in our current system, the problem that some people seem to argue tooth and nail to maintain.

Purpose of Education
I believe that part of the reason for the conflation stated above is due to a confusion over the purpose of grade school education (in addition to a quasi-sadistic notion that if my education was an awful experience then it should remain that way for other generations – I’m, sadly, only slightly kidding). The purpose of grade school education is (or ought to be, and I’d be glad to debate this) to develop global citizens NOT employable workers. By global citizens, I mean critical, skeptical, worldly, informed people. The latter is a natural by-product of the former (with the aid of additional job specific training) but the former is not a natural by-product of the latter.

For example, there is a push to teach computer coding in grade school. I’m ok with this as long as the focus is on developing logical reasoning in children and not so that they are more employable as computer programmers. The job of grade school is to develop the mind and make students capable of reasoning, critiquing and evaluating what comes at them in the real world; it’s about teaching students how to learn, not what to learn.

I need to also address the absurd claim that the powerful Arts Lobby “control[s] the purse strings” of the government (I rechecked to see if it was said sarcastically...). What? Since when do you see a group of historians, philosophers, anthropologists and sculptures put on their pin-stripe suits and go marching up to Capitol Hill to use their mighty influence to twist the arms of politicians. The only group less relevant to (and in) government than the science community is the arts community. And if you think politicians are political science majors, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Political science majors (especially those that remain in academia) are the biggest dissenters against the political system, because they understand its faults better than most, and are therefore the last people to be given positions of political prowess. Instead, they’re given to lawyers, accountants and businessmen (those that are able to bring in big donor money). And to say that law is part of the arts (in the sense being discussed here) is like saying that theology is part of the sciences.

Now, there is an interesting connection between who actually “control[s] the purse strings” (and owns the purse as well) and the education system. The various corporate lobbies, the actual owners and controllers of the purse and the ones with actual political muscle, don’t really care about developing global citizens, they want employable (pre-trained) workers. Furthermore, this could be extended to say that the powers that be (which is not the arts lobby) don’t just want to encourage educating towards employment but they also want to actively discourage educating towards an informed, critical, skeptical, reasonable populous. It’s a lot more difficult to get away with some of the more ethically or rationally questionable decisions when you have a more informed populous critiquing them. This is why I have an issue with the nationalistic approach to our education with minimal exposure to global issues (especially global issues from THEIR prospective); it trains our youth to think that “our” way of life is the “right” way and the concerns of “others” are less important. However, I'm starting to get a little off-topic
JohnRBaker (Mechanical)
26 Jun 13 17:10
I agree, which is why I chose to attend a 'University' as opposed to a technical school (taking nothing away from a 'technical' education, just that it was not for me). While my field of study was Mechanical Engineering (I actually started out as a EE, but that's a story for another time) and it is what I got my BS in, I did take electives in History, Political Science and Psychology. And my required curriculum included classes in English, Literature, Economics and even a class in public speaking, which was jammed into my senior year at the last minute by the University when they made it mandatory for graduation. In addition, I also took 3+ years of ROTC which again included classes in Military History, Tactics, Logic and what many would consider Psychology and even a bit of Philosophy. All in all, a pretty well-rounded education, at least from my point of view.

John R. Baker, P.E.
Product 'Evangelist'
Product Engineering Software
Siemens PLM Software Inc.
Industry Sector
Cypress, CA
Siemens PLM:
UG/NX Museum:

To an Engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

KENAT (Mechanical)
26 Jun 13 20:07
Then of course there are countries that if you go to university to study engineering you only study engineering and directly related fields - furthest away you might get would be subjects like pure math and some kind of taster of management/accounting/law or similar.

However, we had this discussion not too long ago and didn't make any headway so why bother again.

Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

SnTMan (Mechanical)
27 Jun 13 9:29
KENAT, there is no horse so dead that it cannot be further beaten :)
Brown23 (Mechanical)
22 Jul 13 14:17
Hey, my education has been pretty complete, but the one part that I can't stand is the requirement of taking certain cultural courses before being able to graduate. I understand encouraging students to learn about other cultures in the world, but there should be something short of making them required learning in college, especially when you are also required at some universities to have as much coursework in learning about the heritage/culture of African Americans (min. 6 credit hours) as you take for statics and dynamics combined (about 3 credit hours each).
TomDOT (Materials)
6 Aug 13 16:52
In my "worthless" arts classes in Uni I learned hands-on soldering, forging, pickling, die-press forming, metal shearing, anodizing, casting, annealing, work-hardening, riveting, rolling stock to thickness, et cetera.
SnTMan (Mechanical)
7 Aug 13 12:22
See, a couple more whacks....
rconnor (Mechanical)
7 Aug 13 15:13
I appreciate the humour but it’s only beating a dead horse if we talk around or over others. The unfortunate thing, which adds credence to your point, is that we seem to be doing just that. I wish to appeal for a discussion, as I feel this is an interesting topic.

I found it a little troubling that after my post criticizing jhake’s and oldfieldguy’s posts, they received stars with no attempt to discredit some of my challenges. My issue is NOT that others agreed with a view that I didn’t, my issue is that they did so well ignoring uncontested criticism. I’d love to know why they feel my criticism is unfounded as I feel this could be a worthwhile discussion.

But maybe your right SnTMan, maybe this thread has ran its course (and others like it).
KENAT (Mechanical)
7 Aug 13 16:32
If you want evidence of the equine being truly deceased and unworthy of further pummeling then take a look at this thread rconner thread730-324251: Engineering as a commodity: Can we reverse the trend?.

I find it slightly amusing that some of the people most strongly espousing the benefits of a 'well rounded' education/"education for educations sake" approach are totally ignorant about the education system of other times & places to the point that they denigrate attendees of those systems/institutions as having attended 'trade school' and hence being inferior to those who attended 'universities'.

However, now you've gone and got me abusing Sea Biscuit.


Posting guidelines FAQ731-376: Forum Policies (probably not aimed specifically at you)
What is Engineering anyway: FAQ1088-1484: In layman terms, what is "engineering"?

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members!

Back To Forum

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close