Perhaps some of the reluctance of engineering faculty to
accept incorporating humanities courses into an engineering
program has to do more with what industry wants. ["Opening
a New Book," by Thomas K. Grose, February 2004]
I spent over 15 years in industry before joining academia.
I never had a single company ask me in an interview about
"how social/economic concerns affect technology".
Nor was I ever evaluated (in my annual review) on this. Furthermore,
I am unaware of anyone who was asked or evaluated on any of
This just sounds like more feel-good, politically correct
nonsense. You state industry has "bemoaned for years"
this situation. Funny: Our university has a local industry
advisory board and they have never communicated these concerns
What are these companies doing to recruit engineers without
these shortcomings? Surely some engineering schools must be
teaching about social concerns. Are these companies restricting
their campus recruiting efforts to just those schools? (As
a side note, students don't need to sit in history courses
to learn about coping with failure—they experience it
weekly trying to get their lab experiments to work. There
are some excellent reasons for studying history, but they
have nothing to do with what you say in the article.)
In my classes I stress ethical behavior (having experienced
unethical behavior at one particular company I worked for).
I completely agree that engineering students need to develop
this characteristic and be willing to apply it at all times.
That does not, however, mean they need a formal class in ethics
taught by a philosophy department.
I can't help but believe the humanities departments
are behind this. After all, they are the ones fighting to
get students to take their classes. A broad education is very
worthwhile—I just don't believe what you advocate
in your article. I don't believe industry has a ubiquitous
yearning to get engineers who understand how social concerns
Still, I am a realist. ABET is going to get what ABET wants.
Garrison W. Greenwood
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Portland State University
What do you think?
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