ASEE Prism Online = April 2002
In Living Color
Lending Mother Nature a Hand
Change in Course
On Politics
Teaching Toolbox
ASEE Today
Last Word
Back Issues


The art of Engineering


The diversity of career choice offered to an engineering graduate has never been greater. “In Living Color” looks at one such choice. As digital art makes its way into the serious high arts, interdisciplinary programs are surfacing in both art schools and engineering colleges. With computers a mainstay in art classrooms, digital art provides a connection that brings engineers and artists together. These trends indicate that future artists will need to be fluent in technology, and that engineering will be the humanities degree of the 21st century, essential to the education of all students.

While engineers are not always thought of as saviors of the environment, some of our valuable contributions may be too little known. The article “Lending Mother Nature a Hand” looks at how engineers at different universities are building a better environment through the construction of wetlands. Constructed wetlands, like natural wetlands, can treat contaminated water, filter out pesticides and fertilizers, and contribute to “saving the environment.” Going a step further, these engineers are working to add value by building a wetland that may variously raise the water table, develop a riparian habitat for wildlife, or support growth of plant life like bamboo that can be harvested as building material. Schools engaged in wetland construction have also found that such engineering projects provide real-world experiences in the required collaboration among engineers, biologists, ecologists, and hydrologists.

The article “Change in Course” looks at how schools, both in New York and beyond, are working to address the impact of September 11. Cooper Union, a mile from the World Trade Center, has held a series of forums on subjects ranging from understanding Islam to explaining structurally why the buildings fell. Engineering schools are working to incorporate what happened into the subject matter of their courses. Many faculty have become more involved in work related to security and surveillance, and foreign language study is receiving greater emphasis.

“Tenure Under the Microscope” examines the growing pressure for mandatory post-tenure review. Over half of the states have begun or are considering some form of mandatory tenure review for their publicly funded institutions. The article raises the question of whether or not post-tenure review threatens academic freedom.

As always, I would welcome your thoughts and comments.

Frank L. Huband
Executive Director and Publisher