Career Development / Changing Workforce / STEM Education

Are engineering students prepared for the real working world?

Exploring the differing perspectives of industry and academia.

By R. Russell Rhinehart

Education is important. The role of professors is to develop human resources, professional knowledge and infrastructure through which engineering can contribute to human welfare. Item 1: Developing human resources is more than just teaching the engineering sciences; it implies full-person preparation for career and life. To properly direct human development, teachers need to understand the practice context. Item 2: Developing professional knowledge is the creation of a body of knowledge, tools and procedures that are useful. Developing something useful requires application understanding, validation within context and creative exploration to unveil new and practicable. Item 3: Developing the infrastructure means creating instructional materials, agencies, societies, etc. And sustainable systems must be grounded in the reality of all constituencies.

Utility within context is essential. Scientific perfection and intellectual knowledge are important, but those are academic values. Those are enabling tools, not the goal. The problem is that a professor's focus is on the enabling tools, not the context of their application.

To learn more about industry education, read “How to bridge the gap between engineering school and the real working world” from Control.

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