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RE: Schooling (was Connections)

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Cliff:

I doubt that any one in the college world "answers" with "No, it is not
our job".  That is my personal position/opinion as to why colleges don't
necessary produce what the profession might desire (in otherwords, why
have the 4 years of required work experience if not as an "apprenticeship"
where you get mentored/trained on the job).

Instead, universities will tend to answer with a similar response that the
profession does..."we can't afford to do it".  Yes, fees and schedules in
the profession make it difficult for companies to be "training camps".
But, then in reality those of self-imposed limitations that are imposed by
the industry itself...clients will pay us what WE "value" ourselves at and
require schedules that WE agree to.  If we accept lower than "acceptable"
fees and shorter than "acceptable" schedules, then we only have ourselves
to blame.  Granted many might "hold out" for more only to be "undercut" by
others.  But, keep in mind that universities are more controlled by
outside factors (i.e. what prospective students are willing to accept in
tuition increase and what "we" as the public impose in terms of lost state
funding by wanting taxes cut...at least for public universities).  Thus,
expecting more from universities is likely not too realistic as they are
struggling to maintain what we HAVE right now with reduced budgets (many
schools are reducing credit hours required to graduate and the profession
wants MORE).

In addition, like it or not, we as a profession do have some nominal
control over the degree content.  If the profession thinks that current
ABET accredited degrees are not sufficient, then the profession needs to
get ABET to change things.  Universities are limited in what their degrees
require because of ABET requirements _AND_ money.  The ABET requirements
(for civil programs) don't leave a lot of room for "other" stuff other
than the core requirements.  Add to that the fact the universities have
limited budgets, which means limited number and types of courses that they
can offer (see my response to Andrew...shortly).

Thus, the point is that universities suffer from many of the same problems
(and more) that the profession suffers from.  So, "pushing" _OUR_ problem
(which is what "practical" on the job training is in my opinion) off on
them is not really a solution.

Now, I also believe that many older engineers look back on the
"good old" days with slightly rosey colored glasses (my personal opinion).
I find it highly doubtful that ANY engineer ever came right out of school
fully prepared to be productive.  Are schools not doing as good as a job
as they used to?  Maybe.  But, then also keep in mind that the pool of
knowledge for the profession has increased.  We know a lot more about
seismic, which means more complicated design calculations/procedures than
20 years ago.  But, then I also believe that "older" engineers were not
tossed in the deep end as soon as we expect for today's younger engineers.
So, the notion that they are "less prepared" is also a function of the
profession's loftier expectations.

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Clifford Schwinger wrote:

> Scott,
>
> Things have changed dramatically in the structural
> engineering profession – at least the segment of the
> profession that I work in.  Engineering fees, project
> schedules and the methodology by which consulting
> structural engineering firms design projects no longer
> affords the luxury providing “training camps” for new
> graduates.  Granted, some training will always be
> required, but it appears that many engineering
> graduates today seem LESS WELL prepared when they
> enter the marketplace than were engineers entering the
> profession 20 years ago.
>
> We engineers in the trenches are just asking for some
> help from academia to better prepare new engineers for
> the workplace.  If the answer from academia is “No,
> that’s not our job…” then so be it. I was just
> pointing out a problem and offering what I thought was
> a good suggestion.  I’m surprised at the resistance
> that I’m hearing.
>
> In this “new economy” that we are in, when things
> change you have to adapt – and you have to adapt
> quick, or you’ll be dead meat with the blink of an
> eye.
>
>
> Cliff Schwinger
>
>
> > Scott Maxwell wrote:
> >
> > . > Roger,
> >
> > . > And this is where I have a problem.  If you
> > think along this line, then it
> > . > implies that the "customer" (the profession)
> > expects a finished "product"
> > . > (the student/young engineer).  The problem is
> > the current "manufacturing
> > . > process" is not meant to produce a finished
> > "product".  You really
> > . > need to liken the student "product" coming out
> > of the schools as a engine
> > . > for a car.  The "customer" then buys that
> > engine, but still has some
> > . > "work" to do to put the engine in the car before
> > the "customer" really has
> > . > the final finished "product" that they can
> > "drive" around.  In otherwords,
> > . > schools do supply a "product" (as they are meant
> > to) but just not a
> > . > "product" in the completely final form that the
> > "customer" really can just
> > . > go out an drive.
> >
>
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