Reinventing Engineering Education in the 21st Century

Reinventing Engineering Education in the 21st Century

This Monday, October 15th from 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm, there will be a series of talks in NYC:

Engineering graduate numbers have been flat for decades despite the rapid growth of technology from the iPad to Space Exploration. Just 11% of engineers are women, up to 50% of engineering students drop out due to problems in rudimentary classes like calculus, and 88% of US engineering companies have great difficulty in hiring engineers.

All these numbers must be changed drastically if America is to sustain its culture of innovation. A series of GA-hosted events will focus on the topic “Re-Inventing Engineering Education in the 21st Century” and will involve some of New York’s leading innovators in engineering education — from founders of maker spaces to industry leaders — who are making engineering fun, practical, engaging, and creative.

If you are passionate about changing engineering education, come join in the conversation with attendees that will range from aspiring STEM high school students to makers to PhD engineering graduates to policy leaders. Media from the event will be distributed across the web and viewed across the country.

18 thoughts on “Reinventing Engineering Education in the 21st Century

  1. Reinventing Engineering Education in the 21st Century PatrikD says:

    Rather ironic – 15 years ago, everyone was saying engineering was a dead-end field, and software was the future. Since then we’ve seen an explosion in robotics, microcontrollers, not to mention the whole Maker movement…

  2. ka mitchell says:

    A few: paradigm change the government, learn mandarin, stop creating new classes of people to subjugate ,admit , like all good scientist of the past, the existence of a higher guiding power than ourselves, always seek the truth,etc……..

  3. Ryan Turner says:

    There is room for making engineering more accessible (for example, removing the stigma that it is extremely difficult and only for men).

    I don’t think we should be trying to make engineering easier though. Some fields are just hard, If you can’t do calculus you shouldn’t be an engineer and no amount of tomfoolery will change that.

    1. ka mitchell says:

      Ryan,the secret is all in psychology,sssseriously! A scientist ‘s stable moral code is paramount.One of the easiest ways to determine the psychological makeup of a person is : do they relate/like theatrical villains or the heroic part or the outsider . Darth vader or luke or leia. Lawnmower man or his creator? Sounds simplistic bordering on banal. But most of our country”s great achievements have come because of the perceived threat of A dark, hostile force.Psychology being a science it must be able to fall under the scientific method scrutiny.America must determine whose will ,will prevail . The big argument in the past was ,like Nasa , we can’t afford it, better to spend that money on social programs.But without the drive for their continuing scientific input. Look how the Chinese have caught up! And it has been said their plans are laid to the march of generations, not passing fads.Well I’ve become preachy.But always try to remember,for those of us that want to follow your dreams after ours have faded.It is far easier to seek authorized permission than to clean up a well- intentioned disaster. And sorry for the lengthy reply.

  4. Marc says:

    As you mention, drop out rates are high and I imagine even more would consider engineering but won’t give it a chance. The more time a student spends developing his/her mathematical, technical, and hands-on design skills, building things and working on projects, the less time he/she is hanging out with friends, attending social events, playing an instrument, leading organizations, working out, drinking, planning out their wardrobe and hairstyle, and playing/watching sports. These are the “social skills” that are expected in corporate America. Those who excel in striking up conversations with total strangers, those who seek to be the center of attention, those who can walk into a room filled with random strangers and just assume authority and take charge – those are the people that corporate America wants to offer unlimited earning potential, the fast track to management, uncapped sales commissions, or offer to invest with them as partners, executive officers, and entrepreneurs. Even when an engineer is terminally lacking in charisma and leadership potential, his technical skills are usually rewarded at a much higher rate in the financial industry, trading derivatives or consulting for venture capital firms.

    For all the 50% of engineers dropping out of their degree, even more engineers drop out from their profession to pursue such management, sales and financial types of roles that pay significantly more than the salaried engineer. If you have the smarts to do well in engineering you can probably do even better in law or medicine. In fact, given that engineers are often expected to put in 50-60 hours per week without any increase in their salary, they may find themselves better off if they had pursued an apprenticeship as a plumber or HVAC technician. So few are entering the hands-on trades that demand has been pushing wages high, and whether earning overtime, or double time, or owning their own business, there is potential to bypass their engineering counterparts in earning power. And they enjoy greater job security since the engineer has to hope and pray that his special niche skills don’t fall into obsolescence, because heaven forbid that a GPS hardware engineer wants to break into the biomedical industry, or vice versa, without taking a cut in salary back down to entry level. And that’s IF they can find these “hard to fill” jobs, given that most engineers over 40 are likely to meet with a lot of resistance in the labor market.

    Unlike many other professions, most engineering projects cannot be completed solo or in small groups with nothing but a desk, phone, or laptop. And unlike medicine, professionally licensed engineers running their own practices still have to compete with firms employing “exempt” engineers with no such qualifications. And unlike medicine, the PE only requires a bachelor’s degree, and there are even work-arounds for those lacking such. Mid-size and large corporations provide the office infrastructure, management, and capital investment in multi-million dollar R&D labs and manufacturing facilities. Just one AutoCAD license at $5k is too much of a barrier for most engineers to even think about trying to operate more independently. Unlike physicians and lawyers, engineering skills are just not in steady demand directly from consumers, and even most small businesses will likely never need to hire an engineering firm to take them to the next step. Of all firms, civil engineers have the most potential to operate such independent firms, but the salaries for civil engineers tend to be the lowest of all the engineering fields.

    The hype of high demand and unfilled engineering roles is just intended to draw attention from the fact the employers can outsource everything overseas, so they have to bring in lower paid engineers from these developing nations. You can’t practice law or medicine without graduating from an American school, but for engineers there are no such barriers. I’m not saying we need to create barriers, but clearly the financiers, lawyers, and senior executives running the show need some of their barriers broken down to even the playing field before America will ever return to technological supremacy.

  5. Alex says:

    As a german ‘graduate engineer to be’ I am looking for a firm to write my diploma in mechanical engineering/ integrated product development. I sent over 22 applications to local firms in germany (including a designer like portfolio regarding product development) and it seems that I have to write my diploma back at the university… At the moment it feels like there is no lack of engineers unlike media is always going to say…

  6. Tommy Phillips says:

    Not only is engineering (in any field) hard work, but pay has been falling or stagnant for a long time. If someone is not an engineer/maker/problem-solver by nature, the tough work in math and science presents a barrier that is only enhanced by the stories of outsourced and offshored engineers.

    “Why should I work this hard to learn something when my job will probably be sent to Asia before I earn my third week of vacation?”

  7. ka mitchell says:

    Guys isn”t all this why we have found our passion of the mankind in MAKE .Love those cafe constructs, don’t all you all?

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My interests include writing, electronics, RPGs, scifi, hackers & hackerspaces, 3D printing, building sets & toys. @johnbaichtal

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