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Re: open house

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Ernie N.:

By now your daughter probably has an armfull of comments from the list and 
elsewhere, confirming that whenever two engineers get together, they have 6 
different opinions on the same subject.

The decision of what college to go to is, of course, your daughter's, as is 
the decision of what branch of engineering to study, or, whether to study 
engineering at all.

I have no recommendation to make to her.  There are a lot of good schools and 
there are a lot of very bad schools.  There are some very good schools that 
are not well known, and there are some very bad schools that have well 
known names, and I think that your daughter should be aware this.  In 
addition, I think that your daughter should consider the following in making 
her selection:


Probably the most important aspect, whether Papa is going to pay or daughter 
pays, either from savings, part-time jobs or scholarships.  Student loans are 
easy to get, *but*, she should not forget that they have to be paid back.  
Scholarships are readily available, maybe not many for the big bucks, but 
there are a lot of scholarships that go begging for lack of applicants.  Some 
scholarships that are earmarked for persons with certain qualifications often 
go to someone who fits those qualifications only by the greatest stretch 
of one's imagination.


Is your daughter very close to the family such that weekend trips home would 
be frequent, or would she be comfortable going to school 1,000 miles away?


She should determine how large the classes are, particularly in the core 
curriculum courses.  Sitting in a chemistry or physics lecture that has 300 
or more people, about half reading the newspaper, some asleep, more talking, 
is not conducive to learning.  Upper level class size is also important, so, 
with a copy of the semester class schedule, visit some of the upper division 
classes (junior and senior level) and *see* how large they are.  30 should be 

the maximum in the class.  (Having taught classes of 40, I am aware of how 
this affects your teaching.  In addition to preparing lectures, homework 
should be reviewed, if not graded, by the instructor.  If you spend only one 
minute grading one problem for one student, it would take 40 minutes to grade 
one problem for the entire class.  Multiply that times the number of problems 
and the time involved becomes tremendous.)


Who is teaching the classes and laboratory sessions?  Is it a graduate 
student or a member of the faculty?  Does the instructor have significant 
practical experience, particularly in the upper division classes.  (In 
my opinion, summer *consulting* by faculty does not constitute 
significant practical experience.)  While some graduate students are 
conciencous in trying to teach, others consider it just a chore they have 
to do so that they will get their tuition paid and receive a living stipend 
each month.  A teacher with little or no experience will teach the way he/she 
was taught and, if he/she was taught by a person with little or no 
experience, the lack of experience will be compounded.


Computers are getting more and more important in everyone's life, however, 
use of computers should not be overemphasized.  Learning programing is 
*important*, however, you *must* learn analysis and design using hand 
calculations in order to get a feel for what you are doing.  Input to 
commercially available computer programs can be done just as well by clerks 
from coding sheets as it can be done by engineers.  The analysis and/or 
design done by commercial programs was done by the person who wrote the 
program, not the person using the program.

With that, I want to wish your daughter the best in selecting a school and a 
major in which she *must* eventually be happy.

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona