The Well-Rounded Engineer
Engineering educators need to turn out technical talent that can also interact with financial, legal and marketing colleagues.The Bernard M. Gordon Prize, presented last month for the first time by the National Academy of Engineering (www.nae.edu), recognizes the need to build bridges between engineers and the disciplines that surround them. Its a gold medal and a $500,000 cash award, the latter divided between the recipient and his educational institutionfor the prize is awarded in the field of engineering education. Eli Fromm, a professor at Drexel University, in Philadelphia, received the award for his 15 years of integrating multiple disciplines in a program called Enhanced Education Experience for Engineers. That effort is credited with contributing to an 86 percent increase in freshmen retention, accompanied by substantial growth in female and minority degrees.
I dont apologize for implying in my first sentence that engineering is the hub around which all else revolves. A common bumper sticker urges, "If you can read this, thank a teacher"; I might say with equal conviction that "if youre alive to read this, thank an engineer." In fact, if you survive long enough to learn to read, you have to be functioning to some degree as an engineer yourself.