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RE: Schooling

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William,

I agree in many regards.  The profession is its own worst enemy in this
area.  No one wants to spend their dime on "training" unproductive young
engineers, but then turn around and complain when there are not enough
productive, good senior engineers around to do the work in a timely, cost
efficient manner.  How do you suppose productive, good senior engineers
come into existance?  We just waive a nice magic wand?  Nope...they more
than likely were young, inexperienced engineers that were at one time
somewhat unproductive that got some good on the job experience that added
to and complemented their formal educational training.

As to ASCE's Master's degree "or equivalent" push...I don't buy it because
I personally don't think that it will make more productive engineers.  To
me, there is a limit to how much "practical" training a university can
provide.  This is the biggest reason why I don't buy the idea of the
profession "passing off" such things to schools.  To me, the best way to
learn "practical" issues is to do the work...i.e. "hands on training".
Universities can do the theoretical (and some limited practical)
structural knowledge real well, but can't deal too well with "all things
practical".  Dealing with hypothetical structures and structural members
can only get you so far...at some point you need to sit down a work on
REAL projects to get real practical lessons.  Plus, it is really difficult
to "teach" how to deal with situations where you find out last minute that
the ME forgot to tell you that there are some EXTREMELY large mechanical
ducts running right where your lateral braces are currently located or
deal with the archtitect FINALLY looking at an floor opening location
after you have been bugging them for weeks only to realize that he/she
wants to move the opening forcing you to redesign an entire area.

The end result is to me, ASCE's push really amounts to something that will
cost future engineering students more money to basically get what I got in
4 years.  This is an arguement that those behind the ASCE push have put
forward...the idea is that many schools are cutting required credits for a
4 year degree due to budget constraints, so to make up for that "lost"
class time in undergrad, force them to get a Master's degree.  Personally,
I would rather see a push to STOP the reduction of undergrad degrees.
But, it is "easier" to just require a Master's degree.  But, then what
happens when a BS + MS is reduced in the future?  Require a PhD?

This is not to say that I am against Master's degrees or would recommend
against them.  To the contrary, I think Master's degrees would benefit
EVERY structural engineer.  I know that my Master's degree (and coursework
towards PhD) have giving me an edge that others don't have.  To me, the
more learning/knowledge, the better.  But, then formal schooling is not
for everyone.  Many gain MUCH more benefit from on the job training and
learn better/more that way.  I know of MANY engineers who don't have a
Master's (or got a Master's from a somewhat "useless" program) who are
damn good.

Regards,

Scott
Ypsilanti, MI


On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Sherman, William wrote:

> I fully agree that fees and schedules have changed dramatically in the
> engineering profession - engineers keep finding ways to cut corners to
> reduce costs and meet budget, but the profession is suffering as a result.
> Training of young engineers is one area where corners are being cut. My own
> pet peeve is how corners are being cut relative to quality assurance and
> design checking. In either case, our profession is being hurt as a result. I
> don't think that the engineering societies are doing enough to stop this
> trend - or even perhaps to give the trend official recognition. It seems
> that things won't change unless something catastrophic happens, i.e. it may
> take more structural failures to effect change, if we can't get our own
> profession to start making changes. But no one wants to turn down work, even
> when fees and schedules are not realistic.
>
> It is interesting that you say that engineers "are just asking for some help
> from academia to better prepare new engineers for the workplace". In
> contrast, ASCE's proposal for a "Masters Degree or equivalent" for
> professional engineers seems to have met a lot of resistance. As engineering
> becomes more complex and if we want better trained engineers out of school,
> an extended education seems like a necessity but many engineers are opposed
> to this. And yet, I must admit that the proposal would garner more support
> if it more clearly demonstrated how engineers would obtain the type of
> education that would make them more productive in the workplace.
>
>
> William C. Sherman, PE
> CDM, Denver, CO
> Phone: 303-298-1311
> Fax: 303-293-8236
> email: shermanwc(--nospam--at)cdm.com
>
>
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Clifford Schwinger [mailto:clifford234(--nospam--at)yahoo.com]
> >
> > 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.
>
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