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ASEE PRISM
  American Society for Engineering Education
American Society for Engineering EducationMARCH 2007Volume 16 | Number 7 PRISM HOMETABLE OF CONTENTSBACK ISSUES
FEATURES
ROLE REVERSAL - BY JEFFREY SELINGO
WHERE THE ACTION IS - BY THOMAS K. GROSE
MOSTLY SUNNY SKIES - BY THOMAS K. GROSE

DEPARTMENTS
COMMENTS
E-MAIL
BRIEFINGS
DATABYTES
REFRACTIONS: Weighing the Differences - BY HENRY PETROSKI
CLASSIFIEDS
LAST WORD: Retaining Students—and Their Hopes and Dreams - BY NARIMAN FARVARDIN

TEACHING TOOLBOX
A RENAISSANCE ENGINEER - Integrated engineering trains students in a wide range of fundamentals, making them particularly attractive to small- and medium-sized companies. - BY BARBARA MATHIAS RIEGEL
YEAR OF DIALOGUE: Moving Right Along - BY J.P. MOHSEN
ON CAMPUS: Earning Your Education - BY LYNNE K. SHALLCROSS


BACK ISSUES







 
EMAIL FROM THE READERS - Is It A Quota System?  

I would like to comment on “The Future Engineer,” by Margaret Loftus (December Prism). Attracting students to the profession of engineering is without doubt an admirable and necessary goal. A certain amount of "advertising" as to the attractions of engineering as a profession is expected, healthy and valuable. But seeking to attract students from specific niches (Hispanic-American in the case of the Loftus article) is a slippery ethical slope.

EMAIL FROM THE READERSAny endeavor focusing on differences between people rather than on what unifies them may be construed as racist. Trying to gain "market share" amongst racial (a horrible and empty label) subsets is akin to establishing or at least expecting quotas. "Hey, we want our share of that 10 percent market, too!" is an unprofessional mindset that at once proclaims difference and becomes actionable based on difference. Singling out potential students due to any racial or ethnographic or religious background seems unethical in that such an approach focuses on difference.

Recognizing that the engineering profession is perfectly suited to disparate personalities and backgrounds is a far healthier and more unifying approach. People are attracted to engineering, or law, or medicine, or military service because that profession excites their curiosity, their interests and appeals to them in some still ill-defined psychological ways. It is this attraction, the excitement and professional aspects of engineering that engineers and educators can convey, display and tell about. But it must be the draw of engineering we focus on, not the young student based solely on his or her ethnic, religious, socioeconomic or other background.

Jon C. Dixon, Ed.D.
Adjunct Faculty
School of Engineering
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, Minn.

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American Society for Engineering Education