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In “School for Wonks” [Prism, February,], there is an article about engineering and public policy. The article correctly highlights the issue of making engineers aware of the pervasive role of public policy in their careers. Perhaps some of those engineers may even be excited by the chance to apply their knowledge to shape the important technological decisions being made at the federal, state, and local levels. You listed Carnegie Mellon University as having the only undergraduate engineering and public policy program in the United States. Technically, that might be correct because of the title of the degree program. There is however at least one other undergraduate program in the United States that prepares engineers in a similar fashion. Lafayette College in historic Easton, Pa., has offered a bachelor of arts in engineering since the 1970s. The program is designed to prepare the graduate with fundamental engineering and science skills, complement those skills with a core in engineering policy and management, and allow the student flexibility to complete an interdisciplinary suite of elective courses.

All graduates complete a three-course core requirement that includes two sophomore-level introductory courses in engineering and public policy, and engineering management. The third core course is a senior capstone seminar in engineering policy where students apply analytical tools to critique engineering policy decisions. Several of the elective courses are interdisciplinary courses in subjects such as technology management, energy technology and policy, environmental technology and policy, and so on. Students from the traditional B.S. engineering programs (civil, chemical, etc.) routinely take these courses as electives. The program recently started an interdisciplinary design course titled Engineering Policy and Design Project that involves an interdisciplinary group of engineers from all departments working with some nonengineering students on an open-ended real-world problem. In summary, more is needed, but there are some schools that have been doing their part.

Sharon A. Jones.
Associate Professor
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
Lafayette College



“Opening a New Book [Prism, February] is an excellent and thought-provoking article. I would caution that more liberal arts courses are not the great panacea that corrects all evils in engineering education. On the contrary, given enough liberal arts courses, engineers may fall down to the plateau of respectability enjoyed by the profession that has an overwhelming number of liberal arts majors—lawyers.

Knud Hermansen
School of Engineering Technology
University of Maine-Orono



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