Why We’re Failing Math and Science in Engineering
Posted by Bert Maes on November 3, 2009
We will need:
- Better Marketing
- Better Teaching
- Better Training Equipment
Some kids see mathematics as the gateway to engineering, paving the way to creation of new gadgets and technologies.
But most see mathematics as a gatekeeper, a suppression of creativity, denying entry to talented would-be engineers.
21 percent of the kids that would like to become an engineer don’t feel competent enough in their mathematics, geometry and science skills. They experience it as too difficult, boring, nerdy and irrelevant to their lives.
Not surprising as the message kids usually get is: maths and science are challenging, but if you work hard you can do it.
Instead we should tell kids (ScienceDaily June 25, 2008) that:
* Engineers make a world of difference.
* Engineers are creative problem-solvers.
* Engineers help shape the future.
* Engineering is essential to our health, happiness, and safety.
* Engineering is a satisfying profession that involves creative ideas and teamwork.
- The Sputnik era came because there were idealists who said we’re in trouble as a country, we have to compete against the Russians. Today, we have to compete against the Chinese and Indians who are graduating tens of thousands more very talented science, math and engineering graduates from their colleges. They’re not doing better than we are at the college and university level, but they’re doing massively better than we are in the numbers. (Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania)
- => We have to compete at quality. The way that’s going to happen is if we have leadership at the top and a real fear through this society that if we don’t compete better by educating our best students—which means getting the best teachers, which means rewarding them for results—we’re going to fall behind… (Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania)
- Kevin Craig, professor of mechanical engineering: “One of the great failures in engineering education has been the inability of graduating students to integrate all they have learned — science, mathematics, engineering fundamentals — in the solution of real-world engineering problems (…) The college professors are teaching very little practical application engineering — but plenty of theory to their students. Which really does nothing to prepare the graduates for applying their skills to solving most of the problems encountered in the real world of Engineering and Design.” (Thomasnet.com)
- Second, we’ve got to use technology differently. In any field but ours, if you fell asleep 50 years ago and woke up today, you wouldn’t recognize what’s going on. In education, if you fell asleep 50 years ago, you still have the same discussions. (Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education)
- => The same comparison: “Nobody would accept training IT students with computers that are 25 years old, so why is it acceptable to use antiquated machines in the precision engineering industry, where technological developments are at least as fast?” (Kristin Alexandersson, CNC machine tool sales engineer for Haas Factory Outlet (HFO) Edströms Maskin)