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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 20 days ago
    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 19 days ago
    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 18 days ago
    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 16 days ago
    @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 16 days ago
    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 17 days ago
    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 17 days ago
    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 17 days ago
    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?

    Posted 17 days ago
    Every first year student must know analytical geometry (civil engineering students) differential and integral ag
    Software skills must be sufficient

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    Alex Thomas R.Eng, M.ASCE
    CochinAlexThomasR.Eng, M.ASCEIndia
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  • 10.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 16 days ago
    I did not designate a major (Civil Engineering) until my sophomore year (we took mathematics, physics and electives in freshman year that could be applied to any engineering or scientific paths), so considering that was my "first" year on an engineering path, one of the most memorable courses was a series of lectures by local professional practitioners - PEs, Construction Contractors, Municipal and State authorities, lawyers, insurance executives, etc. - along with an outstanding professor who was engaging - that gave us all brief glimpses into the "real world" of those working in field.  In later graduate courses, a similar course was offered for Construction Management students and it had the same effect - the speakers had world-wide experience and was a great introduction to a fascinating career!  The nuts and bolts of detailed engineering, calculations, computers (batch processing back then!), problem sets, collaborative thinking, communication with others and technical preparation started at that time as well, but "real" stories and events stick with us!

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    Michael Kozinetz Aff.M.ASCE
    Construction Manager
    Murrells Inlet SC
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  • 11.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 16 days ago
    Everything we see is connected with civil engineering building bridges roads water supply we can think of it .
    It's told me by a senior engineer 
    Alex Thomas MIE REng MASCE 





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

    Posted 15 days ago

    Well, the basic courses which are in mathematics and physics.

    The colleges and universities need to bring back 3 semesters of engineering drafting.  In my experience, depending on the year some engineers graduated, they may be at a disadvantage in being able to read design/construction plans.  Some can't even draw technically when in the work forces. This "sub-engineering" work is important in the constructions of project and becomes part of legal documents later on.  The students needs to be told these matters.

    The students needs to be taught how to apply those basic principles in matters of design and construction.

    The colleges and universities need more engineering instructors which have more field experiences from the outside rather than those who stayed in academia and have no working experiences.



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    Manuel Tamayo P.E., M.ASCE
    Sacramento CA
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  • 13.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 8 days ago
    There are a couple of things I believe are missing from the US Engineering education: the first really needs to happen the first year - there needs to be a class where there are fun things which illustrate all the things that come from engineering. And, Some sort of actual project for the students to create. There needs to be things that are a 'gotcha' moment for young engineering students to see the potential and rewards from engineering.

    And this segues to the second item. There needs to be an illustration/study of the great engineering feats of the past; or even as simple as looking at the products from industrial engineers (Dieter Rams, Jonathan Ive, Raymond Loewy, Henry Dreyfuss) at the inovative bridge designs (Joseph Strauss, Santiago Calatrava, John Roebling) Great Buildings (Eero Saarinen, many others) at the amazing biomedical devices now being developed and similar individuals/engineering in other fields. And, lets get imagination into solving engineering problems.

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    Richard Christ P.E., M.ASCE
    Ret. Principal
    Rocky River OH
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  • 14.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    Don't get discouraged if you flunk your first math course.  Just take it over and you will get a good grade and it will not affect your overall grade point average very much.

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    John Ulmer P.E., P.Eng, S.E., M.ASCE
    Professional Structural Engineer
    Parker CO
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  • 15.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    The first year engineering student should study the history of war, why cultures and civilizations fail, art history or art course such as free-hand drawing or sketching, a course in the philosophy of science, and a course in logic.

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    Richard Geekie P.E., M.ASCE
    Hydr Engr
    University of Kansas
    Shawnee KS
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  • 16.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    English !!!
    And the Arts and Humanities.
    Say what????
    During one's career, one will interact with many different people of many different backgrounds, experiences, heritage, values, and perspectives.
    Throughout human history, people have communicated through art, which reflects the understandings and perspectives of the time of the art.
    The humanities reveal how the different people you meet can or could think and therefore clue one how one should or should not interact with them.
    And English.  As editor of a newsletter for several years, some submitted articles were excellent, others left me thinking: 'don't they teach freshman English anymore?'
    The point is that no matter how good an engineer one is, if you can't successfully get your ideas and thoughts across to others, it doesn't matter how good an engineer one is.
    The freshman year is the foundation.
    If the above isn't learned and grasped, the foundation is built on loose sand at the beach of a tempestuous sea.

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    Karl Sieg P.E., M.ASCE
    Sieg & Associates Inc
    Venice FL
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  • 17.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    Problem solving

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    Vito Rotondi P.E., M.ASCE
    Westmont IL
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  • 18.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    Problem solving.  Ha Ha.  That's what engineers are trained to do.
    I often use this description:
    From the first calculus problem solved on the first day as a freshman in a baccalaureate degree program, to the last problem of the last advanced undergraduate elective in the 4th or 5th year of that program, one works hundreds, maybe thousands of problems.
    One may never see a problem like those in their life again.
    BUT, what they've done is train their mind in the problem-solving process.
    It's actually kind of simple:

    First:  Define just exactly what IS the problem?
    Second: Don't try to solve the problem.  Just gather all the information you can about the problem.
    Third:  Identify alternative ways to solve the problem.
    Fourth:  Evaluate each and all of the alternatives.
    Fifth: Pick the best one (solution).

    No matter what one does for the rest of their lives, this foundational process will serve well.
    Remember, the CEO of ExxonMobil who went on to become Secretary of State, is a civil engineer.  He is one of many examples.

    An advanced engineering degree without the Bachelor's degree in engineering (not engineering technology) is functionally worth very little.

    The Dean of the college of engineering my first term addressed all the freshman engineering students.  You may have heard this one before.  He said to 'look at the person on your left, and the person on your right.  Two of you won't be here at the end of the year.'
    No one said it was going to be easy.
    But if one focuses and applies oneself and works/studies really hard, the benefits will far far outweigh the costs over the rest of one's life.

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    Karl Sieg P.E., M.ASCE
    Sieg & Associates Inc
    Venice FL
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  • 19.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    You are correct. Except they do not go one step beyond. They are not trained to look at problems holistically. There are many variables in the problem. For example, to a young structural engineer, the solution is most likely minimum weight. To the experienced engineer that is most likely not the case. Simple example. Low weight but many pieces. High fabrication and erection cost. However, experience tells you that the bottom line cost is what the driver may be. Heavier pieces, fewer pieces, easy fabrication, fast erection, faster schedule. This is a simple example.
    Depending on the fabrication contract, you know that heavier pieces are lower price per ton. I have saved many underbudgeted projects, buy providing guidance to designers on how to make the decision to go to heavier members, thereby reducing per ton cost, and erection time.

    That is the practical side of engineering. Not just running calculations. Anyone can run calculations, it's the thinking in how to solve the problem that matters to a customer. Almost all the time the driver is cost. Designing it right is a minimum requirement. Designing it economically and functional takes talent.

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    Vito Rotondi P.E., M.ASCE
    Westmont IL
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  • 20.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    In response to Karl Seig.

    Karl, we agree an basically everything in your note. What we may not agree on is what it takes to train someone to adequately perform the very first step. In my view, that first step, defining the problem, is an art, and that art needs to be taught. And, because it's an art, it needs to be taught differently than most of the rest of the engineering curriculum. It needs to be taught by studying examples. It needs to be taught by teaching technique, not which brush produces what effect on a painting, but rather things like:

    the general structure of a problem - objectives, constraints, and context and what is which
    what tools can be used to define objectives and constraints
    what techniques facilitate communication with a client to identify objectives and constraints and how to use them
    what kinds of objectives are common, even if unstated by the client
    what kinds of constraints are common, and how can they be identified

    I believe that it would take at least a multi-credit course just to teach would-be engineers to be competent in taking the first step in your problem solving scheme. I also believe that such a course would enhance the value of all other engineering courses by providing large scale context for how what is taught can best be used.

    Dan Sheer

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    Dan Sheer LM. ASCE
    Retired former President HydroLogics Inc.
    Columbia Maryland
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  • 21.  RE: In your opinion, what should every first year engineering student learn about engineering?

    Posted 3 days ago
    Here's a thought.  The premise of the question is meaningless.  A young man or woman is an engineer before they enroll at the university.  They know they are engineers. it's in their bones, their blood, their muscles. It's in the way they see the world. All the course work will just seem a natural extension of who they are, with the exception of having a bored professor, one who's lost his mojo. Yuk! Those who are smart but not born engineers will go through engineering programs and will become  great managers, assuming they have a high emotional IQ.

    Good luck to all,

    Rich G.