Monday, August 22, 2011

Teach them to write an English sentence

At a recent industry conference (I’m intentionally obfuscating the location and the industry, but my source is reliable), a speaker, the head of the mechanical engineering department at a large university, invited the audience to tell him what specific coursework would make graduates with master’s degrees more attractive as new hires.

The first person to rise to the challenge indicated that his company was less interested in hiring people with master’s degrees than in hiring people with bachelor’s degrees in engineering; but, that said, there were two basic skills he found lacking, not just in graduates of the speaker’s program but in graduates of all three of the local engineering schools.

First, he said, they all know about CAD and 3D modeling software, but none of them know basic drafting. So they design products that can’t actually be manufactured. Make them take a basic drafting course, so they can make a sketch.

Second, he said, teach them to write an English sentence. I want engineers who know enough about technical writing to produce a report that I can understand when I read it. You’re not doing that.

The audience approved. The professor responded pusillanimously, saying those courses had to be removed from the curriculum to make way for more engineering courses. The questioner was not impressed.


1 comment:

David Bergsland said...

I had the same problem in my digital publishing degree. For all schools, the problem is professors who have never worked in the field. So they have no practical knowledge to share. Nor do they understand the needs of the industry in day to day work.

My best source of students for my 2-year degree was graduates with Master's who could not find work because they had no practical knowledge.