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Showing posts from July 24, 2011

Why Good Engineering Education and Research Are Inseparable? Part II - Research and Technology

Has anyone heard of foreigners clamoring to emulate the U.S. K-12 school system?  I certainly haven't.  I do receive, however, foreign delegations that want to learn how we organize academic research and graduate programs at UT Austin.  This happens at least once a month.  People around the world correctly perceive that most Tier 1 academic institutions in the U.S. are second to none and worthy of emulation.

And how about premier U.S. corporations?  Do they come to UT Austin or to the local community colleges to hire their top engineers and scientists?  Do they set up research campuses and incubators around UT or the Austin Community College?  (Please do not get me wrong, ACC is a very fine and vastly underfunded institution, which treats the most difficult cases of acute high-schoolitis and online-learnatis.  My youngest daughter, a BS graduate in premed from UC Santa Cruz, is a nursing student at ACC, and I am pleased with the quality of her program.)

Thus, it astounds me that s…

Why Good Engineering Education and Research Are Inseparable? Part I - Teaching

Here are two other questions related to the title:
What unique benefits are given to students at all levels - from freshmen to PhD candidates - by a good engineer and scientist, who also happens to be a decent teacher? How are these benefits different from those delivered by a credentialed, but scientifically incompetent teacher?We keep on hearing the loud and stubborn voices that call for a strict separation of teaching from engineering practice and research. I think that these voices are tragically mistaken.

By the way, when I say "tragically," I am thinking of Euripides, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Shakespeare. In a good Greek tragedy the audience knows the inevitable fatal outcome, but the protagonists don't.

For 22 years, I have been a teacher at two top public universities in the U.S.: UC Berkeley and UT Austin. Over time, I have taught some pretty large classes, so my statistical sample is sufficiently broad to justify the statements I shall make next.

This is what I…