Sunday, July 13, 2008

Is it important to have engineering curriculum and teaching tools that are relevant to industry?

Do you think it is important to have engineering curriculum and teaching tools that are relevant to industry? We asked this question at the 2008 American Control Conference (ACC) in Seattle. Here are the answers from some of the professors. What do you think? Let us know!
Prof. Dennis Bernstein, University of Michigan
I hope that ultimately everything that we are teaching the students is relevant to the industry, at least in one way or the other. Certainly, the parts of curriculum that are obviously relevant to industry are very good in motivating students.
So, what I like to do is take an advantage of the years students spend at the university and teach them fundamentals... but I always do remind them and stress the relevance of what they are learning to the industry.

Prof. Andrew Alleyne, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
I think that engineers seem to have a type of mindset that is discovery-based or problem-motivated, I mean, they are going to learn the material much better if they can see why they are learning the material.
Usually a kid wants to be an engineer because they see a car, a spaceship, they see, you know, a wonderful new bio-material and, boy, it would be really cool to do that.
That's why it gets important if you go ahead and show them the kind s of thingd they would be using in the curriculum, so down the line, I think for most engineers, the vast majority of them - that's what is going to motivate them to really pay attention, really focus: I get to learn this because I will be using it here, I can see where I'm going to be applying this.

Prof. Michael J. Grimble, Strathclyde University, UK
Actually the curriculum needs rethinking. Many of the topics which are included are not so relevant. So students need exposure not only to relevant material, but also to relevant equipment they may come accross in the industry or at least the techniques that they are going to use in industry. And so, for both reasons, I think it is a good idea that we rethink how we run courses which are supposedly for industry, but probably are rather more academic than they should be.

Prof. Richard D. Braatz, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Students have a tendency to compartmentalize information into the little boxes, no to see the interconnections. And one of the big place where we see a lot of compartmentalizing is between what they do on the paper and what they should do in practice.
I have an entire class that can do a great job at pencil and paper, but then you actually give them a real system and they need a tow. Because that aspect of engineering is learning by doing. If you don't get to do anything, you are not going to learn how to apply it in practice.

Prof. Stephen Kahne, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
First of all, most of our graduates will go to industry. Secondly, our students need motivation, and these tools can provide some motivation. Yes, and these hands-on experimental opportunities for kids to find out what control can do for them are very useful.
People don't really realize that a lot of what they are doing is empowered by and actually, there is control technology at work.

Prof. Chaouki D. Abdallah, New Mexico University
I do believe it's important to have engineering tools in teaching relevant to industry, I think it's more important however to have industry also be involved from the educational aspect, to undersatnd the educational measures.
It's much more important from our point of view as educators to educate students who can work in multiple industries rather than a particular one. So rather than training people in particular tool, what we would like to do, or what we strive to do is really to teach students how to use certain tools, but be able to go to multiple industries and multiple applications.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I think it is very important to have a such type of curriculum because it is an engineer only who can make an industry get more profit along with decreasing the cost of goods by modifying the production techniques and also to make it more environment friendly. These are some of the main aspects of today's industries. An engineer will work in this direction only if he will be aware of these problems. So he should have technical knowledge about industries.


Ankit Goyal
Instrumentation And Control Engineering
NIT Tiruchirappalli