Thursday, 16 April 2015

A Whole New Engineer

David Goldberg claims that there are seven missing basics in engineering education, which are obvious to anyone who sees students attempting genuine engineering problems.

Goldberg's assertion is that universities are producing compliant drones for monolithic integrated companies which no longer exist. His Whole New Engineer is actually the old, bold engineer.

There is such a thing in engineering, unlike aviation, where they say : “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.” 

But I digress - David was inspired by work at Olin, a small specialist private college in the US. He attempted to bring something of the feel of Olin's radically innovative approach to The University of Urbana-Champaign at Illinois.

This was (as one of the book chapter names indicates), trying to teach a big old dog new tricks. Illinois was not a small, rich, privately funded radical start-up like Olin, but a big, well-established research led (but as usual really funded by teaching) university.

He discusses how he overcame the barriers to any radical innovation in such institutions (nutshell: don't ask turkeys to vote for Xmas), and offers many insights from business change management literature.

There isn't very much activity at present in the UK driven by David's work, though there is an attempt to replicate Olin at the New Model in Technology and Engineering Institution soon to start up in Hereford. The Academic partners are two Russell Group (i.e Research led) universities, and Olin itself. It will be interesting to see how it works out.