We employ an eclectic mixture of experienced engineers, graduate engineers and engineering students both on staff and contract ranging from few days a year to “14 months a year” (i.e. they work day and night). What drives me into a frenzy (and other engineers around town) is the absolute rubbish these young students are being taught at university or college...

 

Dear colleagues,

We employ an eclectic mixture of experienced engineers, graduate engineers and engineering students both on staff and contract ranging from few days a year to “14 months a year” (i.e. they work day and night).

What drives me into a frenzy (and other engineers around town) is the absolute rubbish these young students are being taught at university or college. From how to program an ancient microprocessor (yes!) to totally irrelevant theoretical mumbo-jumbo.

The challenge we face is that a large percentage of the academics teaching young students have no industry experience. They have never worked in industry and never will work there. So what are they teaching our young people?

The community and technical colleges have similar challenges. Perhaps worst as they are also underpaying their staff.

I am the first to admit that our textbooks need constant review.

I don’t appreciate people who rant and rave about things (as I appear to be doing here) without proffering a constructive solution. So here is mine:

Don’t get me wrong. There are some outstanding lecturers and college teachers. Absolutely dedicated and driven to do the best for their students. With superb industry experience and credibility. Despite being regularly kicked in the guts by the government in terms of cut-backs. I am constantly amazed by the passion and enthusiasm shown by these instructors. And quite bewildered as to why they keep plugging away.

We used to present a program of courses for one of the upcoming universities in process instrumentation.  The dean of engineering reluctantly and sadly confided that due to a problem with university funding (they had too many lecturers), they had to terminate our program on instrumentation – the real nuts and bolts. I notice with grim interest that a year or so after this he left the university as well.

I can tolerate the brick bats; so please hurl them.

We need to get our governments to significantly upgrade the pay and conditions of university and college instructors so that we attract the finest.

We need to volunteer to present courses at these colleges and universities.

We need to measure and market /advertise to the world  the good university and college engineering departments to show who is the best in teaching outstanding engineering with instructors who have real passion and commitment to “real engineering” so that they get even greater rewards. We need to shame the colleges and universities with a poor record and pour in assistance to raise their level.

We need to grab engineering students and offer them vacation employment in meaningful and real occupations. Doing what real engineers do.

We need to go to the high schools and promote what good engineering education is about.

Yours in engineering learning,

Steve

Mackay’s Musings – 27th January’15 #549
125, 273 readers – www.idc-online.com/blogs/stevemackay