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Musings on the TR Community project

By Beth Blakely ·
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Consultant to remain in Houston to blog through Rita

by Beth Blakely In reply to Musings on the TR Communi ...

<a href="http://www.blogsofwar.com">This guy</a> is holing up in downtown Houston to blog through Hurricane
Rita:<br /><br />
http://www.blogsofwar.com/<br />
<br />
His focus is on defense, technology, and space. He is an IT Business Process consultant for a hospital.

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Consultant to remain in Houston to blog through Rita

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Fantasy Phones

by Beth Blakely In reply to Musings on the TR Communi ...

I am generally not an early adopter by any standards (excepting those of
my retired parents). Mainly, it's because I'm a cheapskate, but also
because I'm generally only interested in social or time-saving
technology applications.<br />
<br />


It's also very frustrating to try and use a technology that most of the
world is either unprepared for or uninterested in. Take my short stint
with <a href="http://www.meetro.com/">Meetro,</a> for example. It's a cool little social networking service,
but there are very few people in my area using it. That's very
frustrating, as it tends to make it hard to meet new people with my
interests.

<br />
However, when I was reading <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/2100-1009-5883341.html">this news story</a> today about how the Trusted
Computing Group plans to unveil new, hardware-based security standards
for mobile phone devices, I couldn't help but picture myself with a
groovy new phone with futuristic features. Realistically, I know I won't
invest in any of these new-fangled phones until some company can
securely provide all the features I want at a reasonable rate. That
brings me to the fun part of this little phone fantasy: What are those
features?
<br />
<br />
I'd like music and recorded books at the touch of a button, headphones
that attach in a way that make them easy to carry and keep, and the
ability to really browse the Web without feeling like I'm going blind.
I'd also like to be able to easily sync with my work and home
calendars, debit card capabilities, e-mail and text messaging, and, of
course, the ability to answer and make phone calls. Finally, I want all
this functionality in a light, easy to carry, durable device. Is that
so hard?
<br /><br />
What features would your dream phone of the future provide? You can
post your wish list in this <a href="http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-11189-0.html?forumID=96&threadID=181871&start=0">discussion</a>.

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Why the US lacks engineers

by Beth Blakely In reply to Musings on the TR Communi ...

This is a really great article<strong>: <a href="http://www.techcentralstation.com/092105B.html">Confessions of an Engineering Washout</a></strong>. The author relates his tragic tale of failed schooling and attempts to explain "why the United States lacks engineers."<font face="Arial, helvetica, sans-serif" size="5"><strong><br />
</strong></font><strong><br />
</strong><font face="Arial, helvetica, sans-serif" size="5"></font>
I could identify so much with the culture shock of the "teaching
methods" employed by some professors and teaching assistants,
especially in the math and science departments.<br />
<br />
I wonder how many would-be engineers can relate to this piece?<br />

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Why the US lacks engineers

by RexWorld In reply to Why the US lacks engineer ...

No question that deficiencies in our education system are part of the
problem.  And I certainly relate to some of his tales of woe,
especially having to deal with either a TA or professor who have no
ability to actually teach.  No skills or training as
educators.  Those instructors got there because of their ability
in a particular field, not because of their ability to teach that
particular field.<br />
<br />
Still, I wouldn't lay all the blame on the instruction.  There's
so many other social and economic factors at work.  To me the
gender problem is the biggest single issue--if engineering had as many
female students as there are male students the so-called shortage would
be gone tomorrow.  But because of the insidious gender bias in the
sciences and engineering (parents who don't want their daughters in
such a nerdy profession, teachers who don't encourage science skills as
much in girls as they do boys, etc.) we've got a badly skewed
demographic.<br />

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Why the US lacks engineers

by bpope In reply to Why the US lacks engineer ...

Not just "would be's" but people who completed the curriculum
too.  I started out in a college that did no research and required
professors to attend teaching skills development seminars twice a
month.  When I transferred to a major university I was shocked to
find that for the most part I was going to have to seek out the
information I needed to pass the class since the professers, who were
responsible for tens of millions of dollars in research funding, could
only be bothered to regurgitate what I had read in the text the night
before and wouldn't or couldn't explain the material to an undergrad
student.  There were 3 notable exceptions and I truely enjoyed
their classes but for everyone else I think I would have been better
off with a Graduate Teaching Assistant; it couldn't have been much
worse.

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Why the US lacks engineers

by Peter Spande In reply to Why the US lacks engineer ...

My wife is getting a PhD in math right now and agreed with every element of the
article you point to.  What's interesting is that the companies looking to
recruit these students regularly pass over the "math machines" - typically
people educated outside of the US - for people with very high level math skills
and also more of the skills typically associated with a Liberal Arts education. 
That seems to actually be making the problem worse by pushing the math machines
into academic positions where they can carry on with their work and talk at
students left to figure things out for themselves. 

Her degree is in
applied mathematics.  I imagine this doesn't hold true for people more
theoretical disciplines.  <br />
<br />
<br />

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Why the US lacks engineers

by ae In reply to Why the US lacks engineer ...

The trouble with Americans is they expect the teachers to do most of the teaching as well as most of the rest of the work. When are Americans going to learn that in college you are expected to teach yourself? Where's the self-reliance? We don't have much, if any. So you dropped out like so many others. Too bad. I've heard the same complaints as yours for the past 40 years. I made it (1972, BSEE Iowa State University), so why can't others? I'm no genius (borderline Mensa - on a good day), but I do have perseverence. Perhaps that's what Americans lack most.


Allen

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Why the US lacks engineers

by j.chapple In reply to Why the US lacks engineer ...

<p>I am tired of the lazy American tirades.  My math and comptuer teachers did not teach, they just wasted my time.  And if I am suppoed to learn it on my own, why does it matter which school I go to?  Or better yet, why even bother go to school?  Many tech people in my company do not have tech degrees and most are top-notch at what they do.</p>
<p>For me it was simple.  I can make more money in a different profession.  I was three years into a computer engineering degree, then switched to Business Administration.  Business professionals hire other business professionals especially ones that can talk tech.  Most technical people cannot relate their work to the needs of the business, therefore their efforts are generally wasted.  I make more than my friends that stayed in CompEng, and I got out of college 2.5 years later.</p>

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Why the US lacks engineers

by chemical_engr In reply to Why the US lacks engineer ...

<p>I have to disagree with the theme of this ... if you fail, then try again ! ... I know this only too well. Here let me relate. </p>
<p>I am very smart - I dont say this to be coy or obnoxious or pompus. It is true, I have a150-160 IQ and I excelled at Math and Sci in HS. I was a 'natural' at calc, a natural at 'chem' ... but yet I nearly failed Physics in College. Yes ... it is true, oh I could blame it on the prof or the TA, but the bottom line is I did not study effectively. I did not learn the engineering or science college teaching system ... until it was nearly too late. </p>
<p>I earned a BS in chem and math from a prominent undergrad univ in the NEast. I then went to grad school for chem E and basically failed out after 2 years of study ... not because I wasnt smart enuf, not because I couldnt handle it ... sure the profs sucked, but it was up to me to seek the 'results' i needed. Dont get me wrong - passing in grad engineering or undergrad engineering is not the same as 'learning' the material. I know this for sure too. After leaving my first stint in grad chem E, i took a job as a staff engineer for a pharma company in a major manuf facility, i learned - really learned the art of chem e from that point forward - not the theoretical stuff - although that has a place too. After working for two different companies for three years, i then went BACK to chem e grad study, and approached the material differently, study to pass, and not to learn, not the same thing ! ... but dont forget what you are learning, and apply it on the job, and re-inforce what i learned ... to really then 'know it'. I have a masters in chem E now - after a second attempt. I have since hired many (over the last 15years) COOPs and what is amazing is that 80+% of the students I interview with HIGH GRADEPOINTS !!! ... dont understand the basic concepts of chemical engineering. No lie, these goody goody kids, with excellent HS upringing and very good training at Univ Level dont get it,,, they dont have the basic principles down at the Junior or Senior level. They dont undertand 'enthalpy' or the first and second laws of thermo ... 50$k ++ and wasted ... yet good grades ... go figure - it is disgusting !</p>
<p>Bottom line here ... and I really believe these things. </p>
<p>1) Earning an egnineering Degree in the US is not learning engineering ! ... period.<br />2) You really got to want to learn the stuff above and beyond getting fair grades. <br />3) You learn bunches on the job ... when you focus. <br />4) Being  really good engineer is a marriage of academic technical expertise, geniune interest, and experience, the school you have studied at is a low contributor to the equation. <br />5) The reward for the hard work is NOT financially there ... trust me ... engineering study is as hard as medical or law school. <br />6) Coupling business study with engineering expertise is a magical mixture. <br />7) Engineering does not get you any girls. <br /> Do it because you love it ... and you will be happy. Dont bother otherwise. <br /><br />Look - I am a really good chem engineer, I have been doing it for 15 years, have solved some really tough problems, and I really dont make <br />enuf for my troubles. But I stuck with it because I really liked it, and I 'learned' how to pass tests to get the degree ... which is different than 'learning' the material. Go figure, but after the fact - I am having fun because I really like this stuff. </p>
<p>Go for it ... dont be expecting huge rewards, and learn the material to excel later not to get the degree. Do it only because you really like it. </p>
<p>Good luck !</p>

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