Educating Engineering Geeks

Posted on June 8, 2007  Comments (3)

Yossi Sheffi, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Engineering Systems, Director, MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, presents his thoughts on engineering education changes at MIT in this webcast.

So MIT must shift gears, and embrace two basic missions: continuing to produce world-class experts (geeks) – practicing engineers who design complicated systems – and generating world-class leaders (chiefs), who will deploy their technological expertise in the real-world. “My hypothesis is that the great leaders of the next century will have to have a technological background, because we’re going toward a technologically innovative society.” These leaders will be problem definers as much as problem solvers, and, says Sheffi, “either we or China will educate them.”

Sheffi suggests a School of Engineering-wide undergraduate program, where all the fundamentals courses are rethought and taught differently. This means sacrificing problem sets for case studies, and “learning how a subject fits into the grand scheme of things.” MIT should integrate humanities with engineering subjects, ensuring undergraduates understand business, ethics, legal language, environmental concerns, organization and process design. There should also be a formal leadership workshop, required time in a foreign culture and along the lines of the European Union, a five-year educational model. If MIT builds it, others will follow, assures Sheffi.

via: Geeks and Chiefs: Engineering Education at MIT

Related: Olin Engineering Education Experiment10 Lessons of an MIT EducationThe Future is EngineeringLeah Jamieson on the Future of Engineering Education

3 Responses to “Educating Engineering Geeks”

  1. Oliver
    June 10th, 2007 @ 7:20 pm

    It’s amazing to see that even the top universities think about these things and criticise themselves. This is ironic: “… and along the lines of the European Union, a five-year educational model” – because many EU countries are in the “hot phase” of implementing the Bologna Process, that means in a few years there will only be 3+2 or 4+1 years degrees left. In Germany until 1998 (the year the new regulation was decided) a 5-year educational model was the standard and studying about 6 years was average (if you stopped after 4.5 years, you had no degree whatsoever – this is one of the major drawbacks). It’s all currently in the transition phase.

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