Author Topic: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering  (Read 13901 times)

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Offline floobydust

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Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« on: September 05, 2017, 07:55:55 AM »
Michigan State University professor Indrek Wichman Engineering Education: Social Engineering Rather than Actual Engineering original essay; some snippets below (watch I didn't mess up context):

"... a phalanx of social justice warriors, ideologues, egalitarians, and opportunistic careerists has ensconced itself in America’s college and universities. The destruction they have caused in the humanities and social sciences has now reached to engineering.

One of the features of their growing power is the phenomenon of “engineering education” programs and schools. They have sought out the soft underbelly of engineering, where phrases such as “diversity” and “different perspectives” and “racial gaps” and “unfairness” and “unequal outcomes” make up the daily vocabulary. Instead of calculating engine horsepower or microchip power/size ratios or aerodynamic lift and drag, the engineering educationists focus on group representation, hurt feelings, and “microaggressions” in the profession."

... "Engineering does not care about your color, sexual orientation, or your other personal and private attributes. All it takes to succeed is to do the work well.

Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards."

... “The door to engineering is open to everyone, just as the floor of the basketball court is open to everyone, or applying to the [Navy] SEALS is open to everyone,” he said. “The question then is, are you good enough?”

“Nobody wants to see an uncoordinated doofus on the NBA basketball court simply to add ‘diversity,’ ” Mr. Wichman said. “We pay to see top-notch talent compete for victory.
We should apply the same standards to engineering and stop pretending that we can ‘game’ our wonderful profession so that anyone can succeed.”
 
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Offline TwoOfFive

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2017, 08:29:47 AM »
Diversity can only be attained when a sufficient pool of people willing to learn and do the work exists. There is always going to be a ratio of people that want to be engineers and those that have the mental abilities to do so. That ratio I do not believe naturally changes across race or sex. The right way to go about trying to bring diversity into a field is to encourage people to take it up in the first place. The wrong, and quite often used way is to try to upset the ratio between people who are good at something vs people who want to do something so that you end up with a load of bumbling morons in the field who are only there because the school has to meet a diversity quota.

I am entirely for the concept of equality, but we need to remember that we can't start hopping on the equality bandwagon and follow the mob mentality's idea of equality. To me, the concept of an SJW is simply someone who tries to work for their idea of equality, and only ever their idea of equality. SJWs tend to not reason with other people.

Before I go further, I understand this is a hot topic, but I do think it is a valid one that has room for reasonable discussion.

Colleges are a scary place in terms of SJWs. It's my main concern when I go to college full time. I feel the need to take extra care in my actions so that people don't try to screw me over through the absolutely broken US regulations on the matter. SJWs are the metaphorical cancer of the left. They are the liberal's version of the Alt-Right. They are both pieces of shit, and I can prove it mathematically.

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Offline floobydust

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2017, 08:56:02 AM »
I agree this is a difficult topic to discuss, but Mr. Wickman is bang on here. His essay seemed to be driven by the agenda of dean of Purdue’s school, Dr. Donna Riley.
In her words (Wickman's italics):

“I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics, and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups…. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism, and colonialism…. Gender is a key…[theme]…[throughout] the course…. We…[examine]… racist and colonialist projects in science…."

Society seems to oscillate between alt-right and alt-left; neither is healthy.

I did see Engineering grades (Bell Curve) being changed to match other faculties at my university like Computing Science, Science etc.
Engineering grades were lower, so I was WTF my grades all went up 20% just so transfers between faculties didn't upset GPA, and for more students to pass the program.

It would be horrible for the profession and nation to lower the bar for select students just for the sake of "inclusion".
 

Offline John B

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2017, 09:09:28 AM »
There's quite a few academics in America and Canada that have been sounding the alarm for decades, but it's quite possible they're trying to stop a runaway train. Universities are laying the groundwork for a future where they have priced themselves out of the education market. Not only financially - why would you pay 10's even 100's of thousands of dollars to have a whole bunch of toxic far left post-modernist authoritarian marxist ideology drilled into your heads? Even in strict STEM fields, some universities require students to waste precious time and money taking "social justice" courses, time that should be spent honing your skills in your chosen field. Not to mention the extra institutional dangers related to due process if you're a male student. The only hope is if universities start feeling the financial burn like mizzou and evergreen state college. The overwhelming dominance by far left ideology will be slow to correct, but if it brings a university to the brink of financial ruin in less than decade, that may spark some change.

I know this forum seems to have a "no politics" attitude, but I hope this isn't closed. This is one of the greatest problems facing higher education. As the saying goes, you may not take an interest in politics, but politics will eventually take an interest in you.

Diversity can only be attained when a sufficient pool of people willing to learn and do the work exists. There is always going to be a ratio of people that want to be engineers and those that have the mental abilities to do so. That ratio I do not believe naturally changes across race or sex.

This is true, and while it might be a politically contentious claim, from a scientific perspective this is probably one of the least contentious claims. If you take a recent topic like the firing of a google employee for stating reality as its reflected in the scientific literature, there are differences between sexes in the average scoring of the big 5 personality traits. A notable difference would be that occupations with a social dimension, such as caretaking, therapy etc (anything with lots of human contact) would tend to be female dominated, while things that are abstract and object oriented, such as maths, physics, engineering etc would be male dominated.

For the average man and woman, the difference may be quite small. However, when you have fields that inherently select for exceptional qualities, that is when you will naturally see the greatest disparity. What's even more worth noting is that in the nordic countries, where social engineering in "gender equality" is pushed to the greatest degree, you see the largest disparities in occupation choices amongst men and women. This goes directly against one of the core shibboleths of gender studies department, that if all other variables are removed, you would expect 50/50 sex distribution (but only in fields that they prefer, not garbage truck driving obviously). Alas, those departments aren't sciences, no matter what they label themselves as, and you shouldn't expect they'll update their ideas with evidence.
 

Offline amyk

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2017, 09:13:13 AM »
[...]de-centering Western civilization;[...]
As if she needs to do that... with the majority of products being made in the East, is the West even at the "center" of engineering now? ::)

Ironically, it could be because the US has managed to dig itself into the trench of politics, that China is going to come out ahead...
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2017, 09:53:33 AM »
Quote
The recently appointed dean of Purdue’s school, Dr. Donna Riley, has an ambitious agenda.

In her words (italics mine): “I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics, and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups…. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism, and colonialism…. Gender is a key…[theme]…[throughout] the course…. We…[examine]… racist and colonialist projects in science….”

 :wtf:
Seriously,  :wtf:
 :palm:

Well, at least they are waving a big red flag so you know what engineering school not to go to now.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 09:57:44 AM by EEVblog »
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2017, 09:55:40 AM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM. The biggest problem is mentorship, which is usually lacking for most first-generation college students.. This is best accomplished with booster programs in the elementary and middle school years, not by dumbing down the curriculum.

Fortunately, we now live in a role-model rich world as compared to a few decades ago.

 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #7 on: September 05, 2017, 09:58:35 AM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM.

How exactly is it currently "unfair"?
 
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Offline TwoOfFive

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #8 on: September 05, 2017, 10:09:57 AM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM.

How exactly is it currently "unfair"?

It's often quite fair AFAIK. In fact, at least in the school that I go to, there are more women enrolled than men.
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Offline floobydust

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #9 on: September 05, 2017, 10:18:33 AM »
For my engineering program years (decades) ago, 3.4% of engineering (students) were women.

I helped many with CAD courses as they really struggled with them.

Talking with a psychology grad student, he said women have difficulty with "mental rotation" where you imagine a shape or object in your mind, and rotate it. This is apparently a well studied gender difference.

The women, most with top marks all their lives, got destroyed in the CAD class.
The (asshole) prof told them if they have a "learning disability" he could make allowances if they could provide proof. The gals were in tears.

Certainly genders and races are different for their abilities, strengths, weaknesses.
I have no idea how to have a curriculum that doesn't  nail somebody.

 
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2017, 10:23:03 AM »
I am quite Dr. Riley's concerns addressed in a history of technology class.  But in the vast majority of the engineering curricula the genesis of the ideas presented is from tiny to non-existent.  In my courses decades ago the inventors were identified by last names which have zero sex coding or gender coding, and only moderate racial and cultural coding. 

While a paucity of mentors might be a problem, I certainly didn't get any mentoring beyond the grading of homework and tests during university in spite of my male, white, European heritage.  Nor did any of my peers as far as I know.  But for full disclosure, I and many of my peers did come from families with strong science and engineering heritage.  If families are not provided sufficient encouragement for their female children the problem should be addressed at that level, not at university.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #11 on: September 05, 2017, 10:23:35 AM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM.

How exactly is it currently "unfair"?

It is largely unfair in the sense that a minority in the US will attend a vastly inferior set of schools that her or his white counterpart. The racial disparity in education in the US is caused by how education is funded: property taxes. Rich neighborhoods have great schools. Poor neighborhoods have correspondingly poorer schools  The poor are trapped in an underfunded educational system and end up at a huge disadvantage if they are accepted to college at all.

At least in the US, minorities are still at a substantial disadvantage for college attendance. The solution is to fix primary and secondary education, not dumb down the  college curriculum.
 

Offline John B

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #12 on: September 05, 2017, 10:31:21 AM »
Check out some of the links in the comments:

This is from an "engineering professor"

http://www.cavalierdaily.com/article/2015/04/virginia-tech-engineering-professor-discusses-gender-based-violence-in-stem-fields

My, the termites have dined long and hard. Plus the termites had AIDS.




« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 10:46:16 AM by John B »
 

Offline wilfred

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #13 on: September 05, 2017, 10:47:17 AM »
Quote
Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards."

That sounds like a view from the inside, with a high degree of confirmation bias thrown in. If there really were impersonal standards then you would not see certain groups massively under-represented. If a lecturer looks into a class of engineering students and doesn't see around a 50-50 split male-female the question to ask is why?

There are forces at play that are highly personal. Look at the treatment of gay and transgender members of the US armed forces. To be judged based on your sexuality is about as personal as it gets.

I like to apply a Darwinian evolution overlay to understanding why things are the way they are. So I ask what is it about the current environment that leads to a particular mix of students in a certain course. What forces are at play to influence why some people take a course of study and why others do not. And if you look at a class photo of engineering students 50 years ago in a leading US college it will look different to a class photo in 2017. Why?  Is it that women in 2017 have become more interested in engineering? Or are there different impersonal standards in play today?
 

Offline sokoloff

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #14 on: September 05, 2017, 11:03:38 AM »
Quote
Even as an undergraduate many years ago, my engineering classmates and I noticed that fact, and we were proud to have a major that valued only the quality of one’s work. In that sense, engineering was like athletics, or music, or the military: there were strict and impersonal standards."

That sounds like a view from the inside, with a high degree of confirmation bias thrown in. If there really were impersonal standards then you would not see certain groups massively under-represented. If a lecturer looks into a class of engineering students and doesn't see around a 50-50 split male-female the question to ask is why?
I agree.

My answer would start with "Well, what did the previous feeder system look like?" "What percentage of arbitrary group <X> took advanced math and science courses in high school?" "What percentage of group <X> did extra-curricular activities with a hard sciences/engineering bent?"

When I think back to my AP Physics, AP Chemistry, AP Calculus, and AP Computer Science courses in high school (late 1980s), the gender ratio was far from 50:50. AP English and AP History were biased in the other direction, BTW.

It's no shocking news to me that the pipeline for engineering starts to exhibit bias prior to college entrance. As an engineer, I'd look there for a root cause well before looking to patch it at the college entrance time.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #15 on: September 05, 2017, 11:14:05 AM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM.

How exactly is it currently "unfair"?

I believe it is well documented that female students in high school are treated differently (on average) when it comes to STEM subjects. They do not receive the same encouragement as male students, and career counselors do not propose an engineering vocation as readily as they do for male students. This means that disproportionately fewer women seek a career in engineering compared to the number who are able and qualified to do so.

(I can tell this anecdotally, when there were only one or two women in my high school physics class comprised almost entirely of males. Similarly for chemistry and mathematics. I don't think this was statistically representative of the abilities across the student intake.)
« Last Edit: September 05, 2017, 11:17:43 AM by IanB »
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Offline Tac Eht Xilef

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #16 on: September 05, 2017, 11:23:12 AM »
Colleges are a scary place in terms of SJWs. It's my main concern when I go to college full time. I feel the need to take extra care in my actions so that people don't try to screw me over ...

Sounds like you could benefit from finding yourself a safe space?  >:D

(Thought: maybe - just maybe - the way you feel these things "scary" and 'concerning' is very similar to the way people who aren't members of [Privileged In-Group, whatever the domain] feel all the time in places where the [Privileged In-Group] dominates everything, from discussion to everyday life.

And consider that the academic discourse & papers that everyone's mocking / are afraid of is just the way that people who study society frame things in their own well-defined terms and language. Something which goes on here everyday, with "engineers" / us technical people trying to re-frame questions & problems into terms that we understand...)

[Yes, you can probably take it as read that this particular relatively privileged white male has little time for the whining of other relatively privileged people over things that will barely affect them, if at all. Other people worrying about & attempting to fix this kind of stuff for themselves is only a problem if you're hell-bent on making it a problem...]
 
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Offline MarkS

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #17 on: September 05, 2017, 11:32:34 AM »
I used to get angry about this nonsense. This is a self-defeating ideology that cannot stand long term. Now I'm just popping popcorn and watching it burn itself out.
 

Offline TwoOfFive

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #18 on: September 05, 2017, 11:42:23 AM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM.

How exactly is it currently "unfair"?

I believe it is well documented that female students in high school are treated differently (on average) when it comes to STEM subjects. They do not receive the same encouragement as male students, and career counselors do not propose an engineering vocation as readily as they do for male students. This means that disproportionately fewer women seek a career in engineering compared to the number who are able and qualified to do so.

(I can tell this anecdotally, when there were only one or two women in my high school physics class comprised almost entirely of males. Similarly for chemistry and mathematics. I don't think this was statistically representative of the abilities across the student intake.)

That is rather to my point. The only way to get more diversity into STEM fields is to give earlier encouragement into women entering those STEM fields. My point is that most SJWs look to force people to put more Women in as a diversity quota instead of getting more people into that ratio of people who want to do STEM and people who can/are going to do STEM.

Colleges are a scary place in terms of SJWs. It's my main concern when I go to college full time. I feel the need to take extra care in my actions so that people don't try to screw me over ...

Sounds like you could benefit from finding yourself a safe space?  >:D

(Thought: maybe - just maybe - the way you feel these things "scary" and 'concerning' is very similar to the way people who aren't members of [Privileged In-Group, whatever the domain] feel all the time in places where the [Privileged In-Group] dominates everything, from discussion to everyday life.

And consider that the academic discourse & papers that everyone's mocking / are afraid of is just the way that people who study society frame things in their own well-defined terms and language. Something which goes on here everyday, with "engineers" / us technical people trying to re-frame questions & problems into terms that we understand...)

[Yes, you can probably take it as read that this particular relatively privileged white male has little time for the whining of other relatively privileged people over things that will barely affect them, if at all. Other people worrying about & attempting to fix this kind of stuff for themselves is only a problem if you're hell-bent on making it a problem...]

My point is that I am afraid of people taking shit too far. SJWs tend to come in and hamfist their solutions without thinking them through because the people who tried to do that were beaten to death with a 2x4.

What I am saying is that in order to get more women into the field, we need to get women to be more interested. It's not right to blame colleges for not having more women enrolled in STEM fields when they just don't have the pool of people who are interested in doing it. It's an interesting thought that women are more discouraged in public schooling from taking up STEM fields, and that I think is where the main changes should happen. Getting women interested in the field from the beginning, and get them thinking that if they work hard they will most definitely have the same chance as and man will ultimately be the solution to the problem, or at least bring us closer to it.

I used to get angry about this nonsense. This is a self-defeating ideology that cannot stand long term. Now I'm just popping popcorn and watching it burn itself out.

It is a thought often why to bother preaching to the choir, but it's something that I am passionate about changing. My anger comes from the people who are also passionate about changing it, but refuse to listen to any sort of reason or suggestions as to the right way of changing it.

Equality is a two way road. It's impossible to reach true equality from one side of it. It will only take a true, reasoned, egalitarian approach to reach it.
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Offline alank2

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #19 on: September 05, 2017, 11:54:49 AM »
Equality is a pipe dream.  We are not equal, any of us.  Each of us has our gifts and strengths and each of us has our weaknesses.  Equal opportunity would be a much more attainable goal, but even then, we have to realize and accept there are going to be divides based on each person's gifts and strengths, some of which are even based on gender, class, race, etc.  Wait, I can hear people losing their minds already, what you mean we are different?  That can't be.  Maybe, just maybe, celebrating our differences and working together to optimize our strengths would be better than pointing the finger and saying, "I want to be equal to that person even if I'm not.".
 
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #20 on: September 05, 2017, 11:56:56 AM »
STEM students should be taught STEM only, and the SJ rubbishes don't mix with scientific and engineering mind.
SIGSEGV is inevitable if you try to talk more than you know. If I say gibberish, keep in mind that my license plate is SIGSEGV.
 
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Offline LabSpokane

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #21 on: September 05, 2017, 12:06:05 PM »
The solution is to ensure that women and minorities have a fair and accessible path forward into STEM.

How exactly is it currently "unfair"?

It is largely unfair in the sense that a minority in the US will attend a vastly inferior set of schools that her or his white counterpart. The racial disparity in education in the US is caused by how education is funded: property taxes. Rich neighborhoods have great schools. Poor neighborhoods have correspondingly poorer schools  The poor are trapped in an underfunded educational system and end up at a huge disadvantage if they are accepted to college at all.

At least in the US, minorities are still at a substantial disadvantage for college attendance. The solution is to fix primary and secondary education, not dumb down the  college curriculum.

I will add that 20+ years ago, I would have disagree strongly with what I stated above.  I would have said that everyone attending college from an American public school had the exact, same opportunity regardless of race or gender, if not more given the preferential scholarships. 

Not now. I now have heard enough about the problem in the collegiate system to realize that there is a huge disparity in the system for first-generation college students.  Second generation college students, regardless of race, have a large advantage of parental mentors to guide them and assist financially.

The gender disparity in STEM is a different problem in that it tracks both the wealthy and disadvantaged.  There is clearly a cultural bias affecting the system because what I saw was that females were as statistically good as any male in math and science when I attended school. 
 
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Online 691175002

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2017, 12:06:42 PM »
I think most gender disparity starts very young.  Young boys are often encouraged to pursue vastly different interests than young girls, and once people get comfortable with a set of activities it is very hard to get as good at something else.

I'm not sure its productive to focus on fixing male/female disparity at the university level.  Today we are in an environment where if a college-age woman wants to be an engineer it will happen regardless of financial or academic ability; which is very damaging to everyone in the long run.

If you want a real mind-bender ask a SJW why height and skin color are heritable, but personality and intelligence are not.  I tried it many years ago (when we were still allowed to ask that question) and did not enjoy the experience.  These days I'd probably just be fired.
 

Offline LabSpokane

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2017, 12:11:31 PM »
STEM students should be taught STEM only, and the SJ rubbishes don't mix with scientific and engineering mind.

No.  This is not vector addition.  Extremism in the opposite direction is not an antidote to extremism in first.

You need the liberal arts side of an education.  The lack of a balanced education hurts engineers. 
 
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Offline LabSpokane

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Re: Prof: Social Justice Warriors Destroying Engineering
« Reply #24 on: September 05, 2017, 12:13:23 PM »
If you want a real mind-bender ask a SJW why height and skin color are heritable, but personality and intelligence are not.  I tried it many years ago (when we were still allowed to ask that question) and did not enjoy the experience.  These days I'd probably just be fired.

Eugenics went out of fashion in 1945.  Give it a rest. 
 
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