Engineering Education Advocate

Posted on December 27, 2006  Comments (1)

Jolly Good Fellow by Thomas K. Grose

He thinks one reason for the decline is the way engineering is taught in the United Kingdom, with a heavy, early emphasis on theory and math. “Kids come in and they want to design and build cars, but instead they’re fed theory and hard math. And they say, ‘What the heck is this?’” Degree programs should be made more palatable and exciting early on, Sharkey says, with more hands-on learning to go along with the theoretical so students can more easily see how it relates to real-life applications. “We need to get out the idea that engineering can be creative—and then make it so. Somehow, we need to teach innovation.”

But Sharkey also realizes that few schools have either the time or the money to reshape their curricula. “So we could use a government initiative.”Sharkey also takes a more long-term view toward revitalizing engineering enrollments, noting that it’s best to capture the imagination of budding engineers when they’re as young as 10 or 11. Toward that goal, and with EPSRC funding, he runs a series of robot-control and construction competitions for children and young adults. A recent one was in Rotherham, a hardscrabble area outside Sheffield. About 2,000 inner-city kids made and took home simple cardboard robots from kits he devised that use a photoelectric sensor. Many of these kids are considered unteachable, “but to me, they seemed happy to learn. They didn’t see me as a teacher.” Moreover, constructing robots engages and entertains youngsters, which makes learning easier.

One Response to “Engineering Education Advocate”

  1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog » Grade School Engineering
    March 15th, 2008 @ 2:50 pm

    […] for 9-12 Year Olds – Yale Cultivates Young Engineers – Playing Dice and Children’s Numeracy – Engineering Education Advocate – National Underwater Robotics Challenge by curiouscat   Tags: Engineering, K-12   […]

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