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RE: Engineering Education & Professional Practice

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If you worked with the C.P. Alums I work with, you may be influenced to take
back that "intensity" comment!  
ARCE '94 

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis Wish [mailto:dennis.wish(--nospam--at)verizon.net]
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 11:04 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: Engineering Education & Professional Practice


Neil,
I disagree with the underlying premise of your response - the other
schools should not be valued as good or bad, but by whether or note it
meets the expectation of what the student hopes to obtain by his
experiences. There is no questions that Cal-Poly (and most Polytechnic
Institutes) provide a more practical experience that will find the
student entry level work upon graduation - but the employer who is
interested in the ability of his employee to do the work should not as
interested in the accomplishment of the degree as the successful
completion of the courses that are required to satisfy the work he has
to offer. In other words, you can evaluate a potential employee and find
that he has all the experience and knowledge you would love to have, but
not the degree simply because he (or she) was aware of the training that
they needed to enter the working world and sought the classes and
instructors that would benefit him or her the most. Is the degree as
important as the ability - or does the practical application of the
skills obtain take priority. In my case, if I wished to hire, I could
care less about the school or whether the student completed the
curriculum IF [s]he was able to do the work I needed to get done.

Specifically, different schools cater to a different component of our
profession. UCLA does better to prepare students for advanced degrees
and to stay within the Scholastic environment to become teachers and
researcher. Most students applying at UCLA don't understand this and
look only at the "status" of the institution rather than the practical
benefits of graduating from there. Those who attend the Cal-Poly system
can not possibly have the intensity of study on a theoretical basis that
UCLA students have. If only for the reason that those attending a five
year Engineering curriculum have more courses devoted to the science of
engineering and far fewer design courses aimed at architects. While the
Cal-Poly student may be better prepared for a practical experience in
the work world, [s]he will not be as comprehensive in the theory of
engineering principles as those in a five year engineering school. 

This was my motivation for seeking out classes taught by instructors who
would provide me the practical application of the principles and make me
more useful to the profession. While I admit it is an ass-backward way
of dealing with education, it gave me the opportunity to study under
those who I sought by reputation. I remember taking the SE review course
by Bill Porsche two years before I took my PE exam. Why? Because I did
not think that Bill Porsche (who had already turned 80 when Reagan was
in office) had that many more years left from which I would have the
thrill to learn something from.

CSUN had a wonderful instructor for Strength of Materials and Steel
design. I think he is still teaching and this was Dr. Ed Larson. When
you sat in his class, you couldn't help but gather the enthusiasm that
he shared with his students. His life was steel buildings and not only
did he possess the knowledge, but the ability to communicate the
concepts to all students - including those who might have had a tough
time with it. 

I sought out instructors for Wood, Steel, and Concrete who were not full
time instructors, but who were practicing professionals invited to
teach. However, not all practitioners were good as teachers. I had one
who was qualified in practice, but who had difficulty explaining
concepts to students who had trouble interpreting the book. 

I'm not an expert on University teaching (only on being a 17-year
undergrad). However, it was easy to see that my Static's instructor at
University of Illinois (who taught only one semester) was not good at
teaching. The next experience was worse as this instructor (Loyola
Marymount) used his Tenure to fail me in the second week of class only
because he was (as he admitted to me) intimidated by older students.
Still there were the Ed Larson's (CSUN) and Franklin Fisher's (Loyola)
and others who inspired me.

I don't care much about the scholastic qualifications of someone I might
consult with or hire to do work for me. I am only concerned that he
understands what he does and that he have the ability to want to learn
when the ballgame changes and he must learn new methods to satisfy the
code.

Very simply - each school satisfies a specific niche in our society and
our profession. The majority of students who enter a specific school are
not aware of the practicality of the experience, only the reputation
against other colleges which may or may not be especially suited for an
engineering curriculum!

Dennis S. Wish, PE
California Professional Engineer
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-----Original Message-----
From: Neil Moore [mailto:nmoore(--nospam--at)innercite.com] 
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 9:31 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: RE: Engineering Education & Professional Practice

Couple of things I found out after I graduated from Cal Poly in 1960 in
Architectural Engineering with a structural option:

1.	The AE Poly grads were about two years ahead of any of the
engineers
coming out of the schools here on the West coast.
2.	The employers were able to make money on us almost immediately.

As the late George Hasslein said:  "It isn't that Cal Poly is so good,
it's
because the other schools are so bad!"

Neil Moore, S.E.
neil moore and associates



At 08:53 AM 12/12/2001 -0800, you wrote:
>I cannot remain silent on this issue...I was taught many of the things
you
>list below, Christopher.  I learned dimensional analysis in JC
chemistry
>(Delta College in Stockton), as well as problem solving technicques and
>organization (in physics), communication and innovation (JC engineering
>materials).  At Cal Poly, we were required to do actual building
designs for
>lab projects (ARCE '82) and draw details in our structures classes
>addressing things like load path, as well as learn things like
specification
>writing and architectural detailing etc.  I guess I am fortunate to
have had
>some excellent professors and having had the opportunity to attend Cal
Poly
>SLO.  So, they can and in some cases actually do train engineers for at
>least some of the real world stuff. 
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Christopher Wright [mailto:chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com]
>Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 8:24 AM
>To: ?
>Subject: Re: Engineering Education & Professional Practice
>
>
>>I don't expect to ever find a graduate from a any structural
engineering
>>program that is trained for the kind of structural engineering that I
do:
>I don't expect a new graduate to be trained for any real world 
>assignment. Students learn the sorts of things they'll need to train 
>themselves to be engineers. Students rarely learn anything about 
>innovation, people skills, communication, logical validation,
organizing 
>an approach, budgeting time and effort, distinguishing between an
issue, 
>a problem and a question, all the things we had to learn from mentors
or 
>by cleaning up after blunders. Such things just don't happen in schools

>because it's necessary to learn a lot of first principles before you
can 
>learn how they fit into a real world design project.
>
>This is no criticism of education, it's just a fact that educators have

>one job, engineers have another.  
>
>I enjoyed your experience with mentoring, Nels. It's a good post and 
>students on the list should take notice. One of the good things about
my 
>co-op experience was getting into a mentoring system before I figured I

>knew too much. All I had to do was follow instructions and not be too 
>much of a pain in the ass. Then if I had a question someone was always 
>willing to help, from a machinist who patiently explained the
difference 
>between a 1/2 inch pipe thread and a 1/2-13 UNC to the engineers who 
>taught me about dimensional analysis and patched up my sketchy 
>understanding of thermo.
>
>Christopher Wright P.E.    |"They couldn't hit an elephant from
>chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com        | this distance"   (last words of Gen.
>___________________________| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
>http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw
>
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