Sunday, June 02, 2013

Engineering Education needs to arrive in the 21st century

My nephew is in town for a co-op summer at an engineering firm and he mentioned taking 5 math classes (3 calculus plus differential equations and linear algebra).  Did not hit me until later how outmoded that curriculum is.  I also took 5 semesters of math (3 calculus, 1 differential equations, and a grab bag course - Fourier analysis & Laplace transform & pde).

Based on what I've seen at work for the past 25 years, the courses that are needed by engineers now are intermediate stats, DoE, and tech writing.  Obviously being a Quality Engineer shades my judgement, but knowing the U & H distributions, being introduced to the log-normal and Weibull, learning that Purpose comes before procedure and parallelism are far more needed for most engineers than DifEQ.

Curious what courses other engineers believe are lacking in college engineering courses from engineers working in other disciplines.

Agree with the sentiment, but as you point out, the specific courses depend upon what you end up needing to do. I could use basic statistics but anything much beyond knowing what a Gaussian distribution is would be more than enough for me. DoE should be required; diffEq is very useful in some fields, and I couldn't live without Fourier and LaPlace. However, most of what I actually do with those is done by software so I surely don't need to know how to do by hand, but understanding what is being done helps me interpret the results.
Would you agree that Tech Writing should be required?

For stats, most engineers in medical devices need to know the U & H test in addition to the t & F tests for tests that lack discrimination - reasonably common in screening & Qual tests.
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