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In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

  • 1.  In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-05-2021 08:17 AM
    It is very important what freshman university students think of engineering. It is in their first semester that they grasp the knowledge of what is coming their way. What do you think are three/four key components that every engineer should be taught? For example, the engineering design process is a basic skill that in my opinion students should learn.
    What do you think ?

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    Dima Hassanieh A.M.ASCE
    CEE Labs Assistant Manager
    American University of Beirut
    Beirut
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  • 2.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-06-2021 06:39 PM
    Communication skills are key.  Whether are working in the private or public sector, your clients (developers, public works directors) may have different thought processes and working assumptions than you.

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    Yvonne Pawtowski P.E., M.ASCE
    ENGINEER
    Gray and Osborne, Inc.
    Arlington WA
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  • 3.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-07-2021 09:26 AM
    Here in the United States, most undergraduate engineering programs are somewhat standardized and include some general engineering process, writing and speaking, and general "science and technology in society" subjects. But one thing I think isn't addressed with appropriate emphasis or breadth is critical thinking. Based on my experience/observation, there wasn't enough attention paid to skepticism, criticism, and generally questioning any and all assumptions. The "why" was often left behind, and many students and even professors settled for "what."

    In "real life," I would argue that it's almost my superpower to ask questions. Many people don't ask basic questions, and few people ask detailed and thoughtful questions. These questions are the problem-solving equivalent for me of having a very high resolution camera to look at things. If I just take what is presented to me as fact, and don't drill down deeper, I lose a lot of the finer detail in the big picture. I think that critical thinking is a universally applicable and incredibly important skill, certainly as much in science/technology/engineering as anywhere else.

    Cheers

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    Ari Daniels, P.E., M.ASCE
    Outland, LLC - Owner/Principal
    Center for Watershed Protection, Inc. - Water Resources Engineer
    Monterey, Virginia, USA
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  • 4.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-09-2021 10:41 AM
    @Ari Daniels, completely agree here. Critical thinking is not necessarily something that can be learned out of a book. My personal experience is that the student design groups and teams elevate this capability in the student by offering some practical experience in a controlled environment while they take their journey through university. Having participated in ABET accreditation in my past, I can say those programs that had the student design concept better prepared students for the critical thinking skill set as well. ​​

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    Gary Hines P.E., M.ASCE
    Frisco TX
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  • 5.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-09-2021 11:06 AM
    I wasn't in a debate club in grade school, but I feel like a debate club is a place where a student might learn critical thinking and "proper" discussion methods, logical fallacies, etc. The Heterodox Academy does a great thing as well.

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    Ari Daniels, P.E., M.ASCE
    Outland, LLC - Owner/Principal
    Center for Watershed Protection, Inc. - Water Resources Engineer
    Monterey, Virginia, USA
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  • 6.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-08-2021 10:55 AM
    Q. "It is in their first semester that they grasp the knowledge of what is coming their way.
    What do you think are three/four key components that every engineer should be taught?"

    1. The greatest fear will be, or is speaking in public.

    Join a Toastmasters Club and faithfully participate.

    2. Join and/or participate with the Beirut Society of Women Engineers.[2]

    And "Yes," men as well to gain socio-cultural understanding of their near-future engineering partners.

    3. Join the local student chapter of their engineering specialty. Go to their first meeting

    as well as to the meeting with the local sponsoring engineering chapter.

     Be certain to bring cards you can hand to others with your contact information.

     Join a committee and participate.

    e. Prepare a semester-long calendar that shows classes, blocks out pre-class and post class time-segments for both important and urgent matters. Do the urgent matters first each day.

     

    •      SYNOPSIS: Become the master of your career plan, semester-by-semester.

    Revise your plan when "Life shows up unexpectedly."

    Never forget that students don't fail, their experiments do.

    Learn the lessons of each failure, drill down to understand what you will do to get back on track.

    And move on.

    Stay Healthy!

    Cheers,

    Bill

     

     

     

     

     

    [1] https://www.toastmasters.org/Find-a-Club/01436618-pro-toast-club

    [2] https://swe.org/membership/international-membership/

    [3] http://www.asceaub.com/

    [4] https://www.ul.edu.lb/faculte/branch.aspx?branchId=65#



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    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880
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  • 7.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-08-2021 02:25 PM
    Assuming that your students are interested in being practicing engineers; here's a suggestion for an approach I haven't seen emphasized  in a university, myself (I know some schools do so; good for them).

    Preface: I doubt many of these are practical for their "first semester" because the students are getting oriented; but I think this would be good to do "soon".

    A) Have experienced engineers come to say an ASCE student chapter meeting and present what they found important on a project nearby;
    B) Same folks describe their understand how the engineering disciplines interact with each other: Soils Engineers, Hydraulic Engineers, Road/Highway, Bridge / Structural,
    C) Have a real course in plan preparation;  what the heck does a decent set of plans include?
    D)  Contract documents: learn what is the role of the plans, special provisions, standard specifications; learn why little things may have big implications for contracts.
    E) TAKE A CLASS IN CIVIL3D!  TWO CLASSES WOULD BE BETTER STILL. I believe this is the second most important thing for a young engineer today.
    F) Most Important: Work on a construction project for every summer you are in school.  Get hot and dirty; see how real construction occurs.

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    Scott Onishuk P.E., M.ASCE
    Director
    Santa Barbara CA
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  • 8.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 02-08-2021 04:52 PM
    The art of engineering is a problem solving art. Fundamental to that art, and the first step in the Dima's "design process" is identifying the objectiveS (capital S because there are usually many) of the problem solving activity and the ways in which progress toward meeting those objectives is to be measured. Almost as critical is the task of identifying constraints.Together, objectiveS and constraints (O&C) define "What you are trying to do." Experienced engineers can (usually) do this intuitively, without even realizing it, because they are familiar with the class of problems they often solve. But even for experienced engineers, a formal identification of O&C is vital when working on a unique or unfamiliar problem. Beginning engineers must learn how to identify O&C, and what metrics to use (or to create). Time to teach beginning engineers (of all ages) how to figure out "What they're trying to do." The rest of the engineering curriculum can teach them how to actually do it.

    Hint: Case studies - how the client presented the problem, how the engineer determined and quantified or displayed the O&C, how the engineer communicated with the client (often a two way process) to determine the actual O&C, and how the design met the O&C would be very helpful. In addition, learning how to USE optimization techniques (e.g. how to USE linear programming - as opposed to the theory behind linear programming - how it WORKS) can be very helpful in this regard - objectives and constraints must be clearly defined to use the techniques, and the implications of missing or misstating O&C can be explored. Both could be combined in a single 1 semester course, IMO. Potential title: The Art of Engineering 101. I can envision 200-900 level courses as well.

    Daniel P. Sheer, L.M ASCE, retired
    Founder and President of HydroLogics, now a part of Hazen and Sawyer.

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    Daniel Sheer P.E., M.ASCE
    President
    HydroLogics Inc
    Columbia MD
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  • 9.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?