2001 ASEE Prism article, Managing
the Unmanageable is correct that bioinformatics has become
the ultimate interdisciplinary study area...between engineering and
biology, but it is surprising that the premier magazine on engineering
education refers to bioinformatics as the new science, and
that an army of scientists is needed to understand genomic
data. Yes, an army of scientists is needed, but also an army of engineers.
requires scientific knowledge and mathematical and design skills. This
is what engineers of any flavor do: combine science and technology to
solve problems. Engineering expertise in designing methods and systems
to coordinate, store, and analyze reams of data is the heart of the
graduate research programs are the current emphasis in bioinformatics
education, several undergraduate programs, including ours at UCSC, have
begun offering degrees. The ASEE and the engineering community should
take notice of this area and work with both the International Society
for Computational Biology and the Accreditation Board for Engineering
and Technology to create an accreditation mechanism for these programs.
Associate Professor and Chair
Professor and Chair, [Proposed] Program in Bioinformatics
University of California-Santa Cruz
The editor responds:
point of our cover story on bioinformatics was that engineering is at
its very backbone. As Damian Counsell, head of the bioinformatics department
at the Institute for Cancer Research in London, says in the story, bioinformatics
is a special kind of engineering discipline. Counsell attributes
the burgeoning field's success to the fact that it is driven by the
characteristically practical and rigorous approach of engineering.
finished reading the article titled A
Bumpy Road [December 2001] regarding the current status
of graduate e-learning in engineering. I found the article to be an
interesting update and discussion of the challenges faced by e-learning.
initiated some interesting dialogue with some of my colleagues at UW-Madison.
I direct the university's first Web-based graduate degree program. Early
in the design of the program we had rejected the electronic version
of the video-in-a-box course as always suboptimal and typically
inadequate to meet the needs of distant students, especially at graduate
level. Giving students a peek into the classroom through
recorded and streamed on-campus lectures is not an engaging learning
experience for off-campus students, typically resulting in high dropout
rates and more time for degree completion.
of Engineering in Professional Practice has taken an approach of designing
highly interactive, problem-based courses optimized for the distant
learner. In addition, we use a cohort approach with proactive student
support. This approach is demanding but delivers an incredibly rich
learning experience for students. Our students have achieved a course
completion rate of over 98 percent despite all holding down demanding
Director, Master of Engineering in Professional Practice
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Barr, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Texas
at Austin, did an awesome job on the article From Student Chapter
to Faculty Member [Prism, January 2002].
Undergraduate Program Advisor, Chemical Engineering
University of Michigan