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RE: what did I start?? (education)

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A well rounded discussion such as this also implies that when
considering the content of opinions you should understand the intent of
the authors and any "spin" he/she might put on it. The heat gets turned
up when other knowledgeable professionals fill in the gaps and what
appears to be a valid argument suddenly fits a much smaller percentage
of our profession. 
There is no question that I am a protectionist for American jobs and I
am at times a Liberal and at other times a Conservative in my views.
Anyone who claims to be loyal to one belief is only exposing a narrow
mindedness that proves unrealistic.
So, the only advice is not simply to compare education, but to discuss
and understand some of the underlying arguments and their validity to
your topic of educational requirements.

Dennis S. Wish PE 

-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Kester [mailto:andrew(--nospam--at)] 
Sent: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 7:44 AM
To: seaint(--nospam--at)
Subject: what did I start?? (education)

OK, I think I can take credit for starting this thread about educational
requirements that took on a life of its own. But I am happy that so many
people have had so much to say about it, because it is an important
issue. I am in contact with my old professors and administrators and I
will try to put together some of your opinions, whether I agree or
disagree, and send them to them.

It sounds to me like many separate discussions have arisen from the
original post, and we should try to keep these separate for the sanity
of us all. It makes it hard to understand your post if it is
ridiculously long (sorry this one is long), and mixes many subjects and
ideas. But I love this discussion, because I talk and think about all of
these subjects all of the time.

Foreign degrees vs US degrees

Engineering degrees and liberal arts requirements

Additional education requirements and changes in current BS  (ASCE,
Master' s, much of Scott's posts, Cliff's points about courses)

Traditional BS in Civil vs  Arch or Struct Eng degree programs  (Penn St
and Calif. Schools offer these)

My original point was in regards to the first topic,  FOREIGN degrees,
because an Indian gentleman said they do not have the same licensing
requirements as we do. My point was that different countries have
different educational systems then ours, so before we judge how THEY do
things, we should have a better idea as to how the entire system works.
I think we have a tendency as Americans to automatically assume that
everyone else either does it our way, or that they should. Fact is,
there are many lessons to be made from our foreign counterparts.

I will limit my opinions to W Europe, because this is what I know the
most about, and have the most first hand experience from. My wife was
college educated in Spain, as were her parents. Her father is a
technical architect, kind of a architect/engineer for small buildings.
My coworker has a MS in Building Engineering from Scotland, where he is
from. From my language classes and foreign classmates and friends,  I
have picked up a bit of knowledge on these systems.

-High school is a lot different. At age 15-16 they begin to divert you
to pre-college (science, math, liberal arts separation as well) or to a
trade. At age 16 some people know they are not up to going to college
and should learn a trade. So many people from my high school dropped out
to go to a CC or get their GED so they could get on with their lives as
mechanics, construction workers, etc.

-From what I know, I have never heard of another country that has the
liberal arts college system. -In college, from day one, you pick your
program/major. You change your program, you start over. If it is a
science and math related change, maybe it is not a complete loss. -You
may take classes in "breadth", but they are related to your major. For
us, maybe it would be Tech Writing, Speech and Presentations, Business
Writing, Business 101, Architectural/Eng history, etc. -Most of your
time is spent studying math, science, and engineering classes. For the
Building Engineering program it starts general, and then you can focus
on mechanical systems , structural engineering, etc. You still take
classes in the other areas, including architecture. Sounds a lot like
the AE programs at Penn St, Calif, etc. -I have seen the transcripts of
my coworker and his relevant coursework for this occupation was much
more extensive and thorough then mine, or most traditional BS in Civil

I believe foreign education systems are better suited for a specific
objective- to give the person as much classroom training as possible in
their specific area of interest, so they are ready to work and be in
that profession. I believe the AE programs here are more skewed to that
way of thinking. I have found foreigners in general to be very well
rounded, almost always more so then their American counterparts. I have
met people educated in what we would consider "poor, second world"
countries who are extremely well educated and good thinkers (the most
important to me). I do not see them having suffered from the lack of
liberal arts in college, they usually had better high school
preparation, and have an attitude of self education that is different
then many of American's attitudes. At the same time, I have met many
well rounded Americans with no college or a technical education, such as
my dad who is a Lab Technologist and knows more about personal finance
then most CPAs and financial planners (you can learn a lot from Money,
Kiplinger, and Lou Roukeiser).

 I love the US, was born and raised here, but that does not mean I
cannot compare and critique and want change. That is what makes our
country so great, we are generally receptive to change, if for the good.
It is like when people criticize the gov't, it does not make them "un"
American, it makes them a GOOD American. To disagree, argue, complain,
discuss, critique, etc., makes us part of the democratic process, part
of the American way. It is how we got great in the first place and what
keeps us at the top. When we complain about codes, it is because we want
them better, not to eliminate them or change them completely (although
having one would be great :-) ). The day we do not complain or care
anymore is the day we have lost it...

BTW, I am not saying that foreign engineers are better then their US
counterparts. Engineering is an on the job training occupation, with
education being the tools for our trade. I think foreigners get better
tools and are taught to use them a bit better in school. But our
mentoring system is the way to go, if done correctly.

The liberal arts system is a different discussion for a different day. I
can feel the scrollbars going down in a hurry so I should end it here.

Thanks for your time, I am but a 28 year old with some humble OPINIONS..

Andrew Kester, EI
Longwood, FL

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