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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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