Author Topic: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old  (Read 40939 times)

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Offline PeteInTexas

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Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« on: December 30, 2011, 10:16:42 pm »
You guys love to go on and on about the "broken education system".  If you ask me, its students and employers that are broken 99.999% of the time by having completely unreasonable expectations from educational institutions.

One "broken" expectation is thinking university education is vocational/trade school.  NOT THE SAME THING.  Universities are about academics and trade schools are about hands on learn by doing kind of environment.  Both have merits but obviously both can't be done at the same time adequately in four years.

A good model for any kind of career path with the word engineering in it is perhaps medical school.  Four years of academics after a "medicine focused" undergraduate degree, some YEARS of residency at a "teaching hospital" and I think there is more after that before being able to go on and "practice medicine" on their own.  Not to mention frequent conferences and other continuing education stuff.

And employers really need to stop whining about how applicants do not have 100% of the skill set they are looking for right out of college.  This is unreasonable.  If they want the workforce they need they have to have buy in by providing training and "professional development" of their employees and not leach off tax payers to pay for it.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2011, 10:26:04 pm »
We didn't complain about or bring it up this time, our guest did. Small sample size I know, but perhaps that tells you something?

And BTW, I don't think it's too much to ask that graduates after 4 years of learning electronics engineering, that they are able to solder, or use a multimeter, or understand how a scope works properly, or have some other basic real-world practical skills or knowledge.
No one wants 100%, just come basics would be fine.

Dave.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2011, 11:17:13 pm »
We didn't complain about or bring it up this time, our guest did. Small sample size I know, but perhaps that tells you something?

And BTW, I don't think it's too much to ask that graduates after 4 years of learning electronics engineering, that they are able to solder, or use a multimeter, or understand how a scope works properly, or have some other basic real-world practical skills or knowledge.
No one wants 100%, just come basics would be fine.

Dave.

I've listened to enough episodes to conclude its a favorite whipping topic.  You like to demand for more "practical experience" and Chris tries to straddle both academics and practice but is ultimately more or less bullied into agreeing with you (he is such a push over.  love how you give him a hard time about printable electronics in the garage).  And your guest, well, they tend to agree with you simply because they are all practitioners of electronics.

I don't think you have ever had a guest from the lofty ivory towers of academia.  How about trying that out one of these episodes?

I don't think any reputable educational institution are graduating students who don't know the basics of soldering and the basics of basic test instruments.  Of course, there is this proliferation of online degrees so who knows whats going on there.
 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2011, 11:46:30 pm »
You guys love to go on and on about the "broken education system".
They are not alone.

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If you ask me, its students and employers that are broken 99.999% of the time by having completely unreasonable expectations from educational institutions.
If education there to meet the expectations of students and the workplace then what the hell is it there for? Academia for it's own sake is fine and well, but screw taxpayer subsidisation of anything that does not directly benefit the community.

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One "broken" expectation is thinking university education is vocational/trade school.  NOT THE SAME THING.  Universities are about academics and trade schools are about hands on learn by doing kind of environment.  Both have merits but obviously both can't be done at the same time adequately in four years.
No the expectation of university is somewhat above a that from a trade school. None the less any graduate worth his degree should have at least attained basic skills. How can an individual expect to take part in design, development or reseach with less manual skills than a lab technician? Answer: They cannot!

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A good model for any kind of career path with the word engineering in it is perhaps medical school.
Good luck selling that to industry, government and potential students. Double the education cost, same crap salaries at the end of it. It's not going to happen.

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And employers really need to stop whining about how applicants do not have 100% of the skill set they are looking for right out of college.
Where did the 100% sneak in? We are talking basic skills. IE: knowing which end of a soldering iron is the hot bit? How to practically derate components etc.

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This is unreasonable.  If they want the workforce they need they have to have buy in by providing training and "professional development" of their employees and not leach off tax payers to pay for it.
But it's reasonable for taxes to subsidise education which does not equip the nations workforce? How is that reasonable? If you want Industry to contribute they have to see a reward. IE: graduates capable of doors without assistance.

Engineering is about practically implementing science, we would be better off with more cadet based approaches to tertiary education. Just like throughout entire careers, everything has a cost justification. What is the cost justification of an education that inadequately meets the demands of the workplace?
« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 12:12:41 am by Uncle Vernon »
 

Offline 8086

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2011, 11:57:15 pm »
To be honest I have been very surprised at the lack of ability shown by students here. We had a practical lab session and the other two students I was working with couldn't even get their heads round the fact that we needed to set the power supply to 10v in order to get +/-5v on either side of 0v. They couldn't set the oscilloscope up, or the signal generator. They were no help when breadboarding the simple circuit either, they seemed unable to follow the schematic. They even had trouble using the bench multimeter! I also witnessed some shocking soldering from the same students. Literally beading solder onto the component leads with no fix to the board whatsoever.

And these people were about 2/3 of the way to a Batchelors in Electronics Engineering.
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2011, 12:27:50 am »
I've listened to enough episodes to conclude its a favorite whipping topic.  You like to demand for more "practical experience" and Chris tries to straddle both academics and practice but is ultimately more or less bullied into agreeing with you (he is such a push over.  love how you give him a hard time about printable electronics in the garage). 

Yes, fun isn't it?, it's called "taking the piss" here in Australia, that's why we do it all the time.
Chris isn't bullied into anything, he's a big boy, he can take care of himself.

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And your guest, well, they tend to agree with you simply because they are all practitioners of electronics.

In the latest case, the guest bought up the topic and mentioned it.
Yes, we are practical industry electronics people, so naturally we see it from OUR perspective. And yes, many in the industry like us seem to see a general lack of practical skills in graduates, and yes, we find it pretty annoying. What is wrong with that?, we call it like we see it.

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I don't think you have ever had a guest from the lofty ivory towers of academia.  How about trying that out one of these episodes?

Sure. But off hand, I don't know of any that would be interesting to us personally.
It is generally not what interests us. I can only speak for myself of course.
If Chris wants to invite a pure academic on, that's fine by me.

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I don't think any reputable educational institution are graduating students who don't know the basics of soldering and the basics of basic test instruments.

I bet you'd be wrong. In fact, I know you are wrong, because I have interviewed and worked with many over the years, and yes, from very reputable well long established institutions.

Dave.
« Last Edit: December 31, 2011, 01:57:44 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2011, 12:35:45 am »
No the expectation of university is somewhat above a that from a trade school. None the less any graduate worth his degree should have at least attained basic skills. How can an individual expect to take part in design, development or reseach with less skill manual skills than a lab technician? Answer: They cannot!

That doesn't add up. You start with talking about basic skills, then suddenly the skills have to be at least as good as the skills of lab technicians.  That's more than just basic skills.

I fully expect every experienced lab technician to beat me in manual skills and to be a good amount faster in them than I am. That's what they are paid for. I need to be able to clearly instruct them what they should to (talk the right language), to be able to follow what they do and to be able to judge if work done is good or bad. And of course I need to be able to do things without having to call a technician every five minutes for trivial things, and without making a fool of myself.

Design, development and research require other skills than having the same manual skills of a lab technician.
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Uncle Vernon

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2011, 01:44:39 am »
No the expectation of university is somewhat above a that from a trade school. None the less any graduate worth his degree should have at least attained basic skills. How can an individual expect to take part in design, development or reseach with less skill manual skills than a lab technician? Answer: They cannot!

That doesn't add up.
Yes it does!

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You start with talking about basic skills, then suddenly the skills have to be at least as good as the skills of lab technicians.  That's more than just basic skills.
I did not suggest that. However I did suggest a graduate should have at least some ability and understanding with the manual skills Lab techs need to perform.


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I fully expect every experienced lab technician to beat me in manual skills and to be a good amount faster in them than I am.
Why? Do you wish to remain a lesser skilled engineer.  I have no desire to become a welder (I don't even have bad BO), but I take a pride in my ability to do a decent weld. My experience makes it much easier to communicate with those I contract for welding work and to understand and utilise their expertise.

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That's what they are paid for.
Uh-huh. And what is a clueless engineer paid for?

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I need to be able to clearly instruct them what they should to (talk the right language), to be able to follow what they do and to be able to judge if work done is good or bad.
What's this? You have delusion of some ruling class? Lord Bored of Comfy Chair BEng?
Take you hand of it Trevor, that nonesense went out with button up boots and a world war.
What kind of pig arrogance says a good engineer can spit out good design without reference to others or an understanding of the skills involved?
Most of us like to design as a dictatorship, entirely reasonable, but only a absolute fools thinks they can do it well without input from others or an understanding of what others do. You can learn much from a foul smelling trades assistant, just as you can from some goat with a beard in a university.
What is it with graduates that has them believing that a degree is somehow the attainment of all knowledge?

I once returned to a job site to find our electrical apprentice had cut the bulbs of 20 new capillary thermostats and was proceeding to silver solder the bulbs back onto short stubs. Always up for a giggle I inquired why to which he handed me the consultant engineers site instruction to remove the coiled copper for aesthetics. Do you laugh or cry in dispair? Aesthetics, it was a mechanical plant room. The consultant left with the same dumb look he arrived with, still none the wiser.

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And of course I need to be able to do things without having to call a technician every five minutes for trivial things, and without making a fool of myself.
you do indeed!

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Design, development and research require other skills than having the same manual skills of a lab technician.
No argument there, However I'd suggest you cannot adequately design, develop or research without an understanding of the mechanical and practical skills required for implementation.

Engineering standards have very much gone downhill. At one time consultant engineers stood by their work, now all too often it is "best guess".  Once contractor drawings were checked and "approved", now they are "sighted", whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.  We a getting designs from engineers who can do an expert heat load, yet have no concept that 1000 Tons of chiller may take more that a few seconds to spin up.  Industry professionals with years of experience, skill and ability are kicking up about the ever diminishing standards of graduates and with good reason, industry is paying the bills.
 

Offline jimmc

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2011, 11:35:47 am »
Back in the 60s in the UK the Polytechnics used to run an Honours Degree course sponsored by the Council for National Academic Awards.
This took 4 years and alternated 6 months at the Polytechnic with 6 months in industry (commonly known as a sandwich course).
The industrial training was monitored and was counted as 'relevant experience' for joining the IEE.

A great way to gain practical experience in parallel with the academic side. (But then I may be a little biased.)

Jim
 

Offline tbscope

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2011, 12:17:55 pm »
If you look at the speed at wich new technologies are being developed, you can understand that in the same amount of time you go to college, you can not possibly see the same as 15 or 20 years ago. It will all be more shallow.

Learning the details of some technologies has shifted to your job location.

But what do companies expect from graduates? Too much if you ask me.

The system is broken on two sides.
You can't really make the time a student spends in college much longer. As a member of the community you need to produce, otherwise the costs will run too high. On the other hand, there isn't enough time to learn everything. So, you'll see more fine tuned degrees where someone only nows a certain part, not the big part. Companies need to understand this and offer on the job training (which in some cases can be very expensive for those companies unfortunatly).

Something as simple as learning how to solder or use a multimeter is always on the top of the list to scratch for other "more important" stuff. Which is a shame. And that is why I like the idea of the maker communities where students can learn practical skills.
 

Offline Bored@Work

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2011, 01:32:29 pm »
No the expectation of university is somewhat above a that from a trade school. None the less any graduate worth his degree should have at least attained basic skills. How can an individual expect to take part in design, development or reseach with less skill manual skills than a lab technician? Answer: They cannot!

That doesn't add up.
Yes it does!

No, it doesn't!

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I fully expect every experienced lab technician to beat me in manual skills and to be a good amount faster in them than I am.
Why?

Because they are good at what they do. At least the ones we have. They do things every day, while I do some things once a year or maybe even once every two years.

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Do you wish to remain a lesser skilled engineer.

No, but my time is limited, and I need to set priorities. Enhancing my engineering (design, planing, project management, research, organizing stuff, writing, communication, pacifying the boss, pacifying customers, understanding new technologies, understanding competitor's products, understanding and following all the legal rules and regulations imposed on our products, etc. pp.)  skills is of higher importance for me in my job than enhancing my manual skills.

I am not in a contest with lab technicians about who has the better manual skills. They have, and I respect that.

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That's what they are paid for.
Uh-huh. And what is a clueless engineer paid for?

Depends on your definition of clueless. I am paid for engineering, but not for my manual skills, except for not killing myself accidentally in the lab.

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I need to be able to clearly instruct them what they should to (talk the right language), to be able to follow what they do and to be able to judge if work done is good or bad.
What's this?

It is called division of labor. Introduced in the 19th century as part of what was called the industrial revolution. When the renaissance man went out of fashion and specialization became popular.

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You have delusion of some ruling class?

No, only an understanding how work at my employer, at previous employers and in our industry is organized.

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Lord Bored of Comfy Chair BEng?

Just someone who knows what his job is. And that involves more often sitting in all kinds of meetings (in rather uncomfortable chairs) and sitting in front of a PC, planing, designing and writing stuff than sitting at the lab bench.

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What kind of pig arrogance says a good engineer can spit out good design without reference to others or an understanding of the skills involved?

I didn't say I don't understand the skills involved, only that I don't have and don't need the manual skills of experienced lab technicians.

As for the rest, did you take your pills today?
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Offline gregariz

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2012, 01:44:48 am »
Back in the 60s in the UK the Polytechnics used to run an Honours Degree course sponsored by the Council for National Academic Awards.
This took 4 years and alternated 6 months at the Polytechnic with 6 months in industry (commonly known as a sandwich course).
The industrial training was monitored and was counted as 'relevant experience' for joining the IEE.

A great way to gain practical experience in parallel with the academic side. (But then I may be a little biased.)

Jim

They have sandwich programmes in most countries. In Australia, it was (maybe still is) at UTS in Sydney and maybe Swinburne in Melbourne. The main benefit if I recall corectly (at least in the early 90's recession period) was one of employability. Given a sandwich student and a non-sandwich student, most employers would choose the sandwich one simply for the added experience. But in a good market a student would need to extend their studies and from the earnings perspective alot of UTS students decided to just get it over with as quick as possible and take their chances inthe market.

I don't think it's too much to ask that graduates after 4 years of learning electronics engineering, that they are able to solder, or use a multimeter, or understand how a scope works properly, or have some other basic real-world practical skills or knowledge.
No one wants 100%, just come basics would be fine.

Dave.

I agree with you here Dave, I think the average Joe Public would too. The idea that an engineer cannot function in any practical sense is unacceptable. Most good engineers are quite good with their hands and would agree with you without doubt.

However - I think you make a mistake singling out just EE programs. Most Bachelors programmes that I ever had anything to do with had some kind of electronic workshop skills training in the first year. By the end of 3rd or 4th year however most of it has been forgotten as the rest of the programme is somewhat theoretical.

Having also done the 2 year tafe programme I can also tell you the same thing happens. Workshop training inthe first year, however the rest of the programme did include a topic or two in faultfinding and a slightly more practical bent however I can tell you from first hand experience there were also plenty of 2 year graduates who couldn't solder properly or handle test equipment.

Personally I could solder and use test equipment before I ever got to college - however this is the exception and Colleges and Universities do not have any practical entrance exams for engineering. Perhaps they should but they are struggling to keep student numbers up and governments want more not less engineers. Alternatively those who have no skills seem to be able to build them on the job - however this usually requires one to either be an engineering assistant for a long period or do an apprenticeship. There are some pretty capable people from this realm however I've never met one who could do any of the current 'standard' design engineering tasks that electronics firms require such as DSP / RF / Control systems design. They however can often get by modifying existing or copying other designs for most meat and potato electronics tasks. Does this make them engineers? Maybe - but I think the only practical way to deal with those few exceptions (I'm not sure if you are a grad or not?) is to have their skills assessed on a case by case basis. This, I believe is possible in the UK, and theoretically possible in Australia - they don't advertise the fact but they do similiar assessments all the time on foreign immigrants.


Yes, fun isn't it?, it's called "taking the piss" here in Australia, that's why we do it all the time.
Chris isn't bullied into anything, he's a big boy, he can take care of himself.


It's also called tall poppy syndrome - most prevalent in Australia but existing around the world to some extent. The danger as I see it and was clear from the thread on the engineering petition is about the low hanging fruit. You will always get crap engineers whatever the educational system, however the question is whether the crap is more abundant from the ranks of those who have dropped out or didnt go to uni, or from the ranks of those who did graduate. My preference is that the crap is less abundant from the graduate ranks. Admitting non-grads into the engineeering ranks on mass would IMO destroy whats left of the profession.


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A good model for any kind of career path with the word engineering in it is perhaps medical school.
Good luck selling that to industry, government and potential students. Double the education cost, same crap salaries at the end of it. It's not going to happen.

Engineering is about practically implementing science, we would be better off with more cadet based approaches to tertiary education. Just like throughout entire careers, everything has a cost justification. What is the cost justification of an education that inadequately meets the demands of the workplace?

You are absolutely right Vernon, the best engineers I've ever met worked their way up through the system (I'm biased hwever as this was what I did). I've always been in favour of a fully articulated engineering education consisting of Certificate (yr 1), Diploma (yr2), and Degree (yr3). I've never really been in favour of the 4 year degree, the way I see it there doesn't appear to be much different in my experience to UK engineers with a 3 yr or the old 3yr diploma grads to the 4 yr degree. Besides the 4th year has always been available as an honours or graduate programme. The difference seems to come from the grilling Uni's rather than colleges give one ie. After failing uni maths for the 3rd time alot drop out or get kicked out.

However as you point out its about wages. If engineering wages do not track levels higher than average degrees people wisely take an easier path such as business at uni's and then have access to 10x the job prospects for the same wages.

« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 02:28:28 am by gregariz »
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2012, 02:37:32 am »
When I was at university the capable students among my friends were geeks. Visit an EE and they would have in-progress projects spread across tables in their rooms with wire wrap and soldering irons aplenty. The mechanical engineers would strip down and rebuild cars in the workshop and tune them up in the process. It's tougher doing hands-on as a chemical engineer as chemical engineering tends to be industrial scale and its hard to do at home. But I do think engineers should be entering a degree course with some existing practical interest and ability, and learning the theory to back that up. Theory is just gobbledegook unless you can appreciate how it applies to the real world.

Should any student be accepted to an EE course as an undergraduate unless they already know how to use a soldering iron and build electronic projects? If not, where is the aptitude and demonstrated interest in the subject?
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2012, 06:44:12 am »
Should any student be accepted to an EE course as an undergraduate unless they already know how to use a soldering iron and build electronic projects? If not, where is the aptitude and demonstrated interest in the subject?

In my experience, the vast majority of students don't really give a shit about what they are studying. And this applies equally to both 4 year university programs, and lower level 2/3 year type technical courses.
They have little, if any genuine interest in it, it's just a course to pass for whatever reason it is they are doing it.
I think they should have special programs or classes for the genuinely interested people.

Dave.
 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2012, 06:56:29 am »
I think they should have special programs or classes for the genuinely interested people.
If I had my way those who are not, could be relocated to an entirely different planet.
 

Offline SgtRock

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2012, 07:13:18 am »
Greetings EEVBees:

--Happy New Year to all. I intend to hold forth on this topic after the Holiday Celebrations and Celebrators are out of the way. This post is by way of a bookmark to keep me current. More later. God Bless you all.

"Three weeks in the lab will save you a day in the library every time"
R. Stanley Williams 1951 -

Best Regards
Clear Ether
 

Offline SgtRock

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2012, 07:47:10 am »
Greetings EEVBees:

--And on an unrelated note; Am I mistaken or does our esteemed Australian curmudgeon UV bear a striking resemblance to the Yank; "Don Williams"; the American patron saint of gear jammers, hammer slammers, and wrench clenchers in the US of A.

"My baby said I was crazy, my momma called me lazy,
I was going to show 'em all this time...Livin' on Tulsa time."

Don Williams 1939 -

Best Regards
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« Last Edit: January 01, 2012, 07:50:23 am by SgtRock »
 

Offline 8086

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2012, 01:51:01 pm »

In my experience, the vast majority of students don't really give a shit about what they are studying. And this applies equally to both 4 year university programs, and lower level 2/3 year type technical courses.
They have little, if any genuine interest in it, it's just a course to pass for whatever reason it is they are doing it.
I think they should have special programs or classes for the genuinely interested people.

Dave.

I agree, it would be nice to not have to "pick up the slack" so to speak, for those who just want a degree in something, anything will do, etc.

I know a few people who got onto engineering courses at the last minute and have absolutely no idea about any aspect of the course. They seem to go between subjects trying a bit of everything, and excelling at nothing, usually ending up doing IT/business something-or-other bullshit, but the system lets them scrape by, and by the end they can say they have a degree, even if it's only a 3rd or a pass, and if nobody asks any further questions, it appears to be exactly the same as a 1st.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2012, 08:20:30 am »
Engineering is about practically implementing science, we would be better off with more cadet based approaches to tertiary education. Just like throughout entire careers, everything has a cost justification. What is the cost justification of an education that inadequately meets the demands of the workplace?

How do you define "inadequately meets the demands of the workplace"?  Is it reasonable to expect recent grads just starting out in the fast and furious world of technology to be confident with any oscilloscope of arbitrary make and model at the interview?

Yes indeed engineering is about practically implementing science.  The education system covers the science part, theory and such because that is what they are good at and and industry is suppose to cover the practical part because that is what they do.  For an employer therefore to expect a recent grad to be "practical heavy" is unreasonable because they likely did some practical stuff early on before they got inundated with theory.

I guess it would be possible to have the education system produce "practical heavy" graduates.  I see two issues:

1) educational institutions are slow to change so I don't know how they would keep up with the fast and furious pace of industry.  By the time a curriculum is developed its out of date.

2) all education that does not support soldering skills would have to be taken out.  This means no foreign language, no "humanities" courses, no phys ed, no "soft science" courses like sociology, no history or civics, nothing of the sort that society would consider an "educated" person should have been exposed to.

There was a time when a college degree signaled to industry the graduate is trainable.  These days, it seems employers expect it to be an applicants curriculum vitae.
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2012, 08:35:38 am »

In my experience, the vast majority of students don't really give a shit about what they are studying. And this applies equally to both 4 year university programs, and lower level 2/3 year type technical courses.
They have little, if any genuine interest in it, it's just a course to pass for whatever reason it is they are doing it.
I think they should have special programs or classes for the genuinely interested people.

Dave.

I agree, it would be nice to not have to "pick up the slack" so to speak, for those who just want a degree in something, anything will do, etc.

I know a few people who got onto engineering courses at the last minute and have absolutely no idea about any aspect of the course. They seem to go between subjects trying a bit of everything, and excelling at nothing, usually ending up doing IT/business something-or-other bullshit, but the system lets them scrape by, and by the end they can say they have a degree, even if it's only a 3rd or a pass, and if nobody asks any further questions, it appears to be exactly the same as a 1st.

Isn't college the place to "find oneself"?
 

Offline PeteInTexas

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2012, 08:45:29 am »
I don't think any reputable educational institution are graduating students who don't know the basics of soldering and the basics of basic test instruments.

I bet you'd be wrong. In fact, I know you are wrong, because I have interviewed and worked with many over the years, and yes, from very reputable well long established institutions.

Dave.

You are likely right.  But do you find them to be the majority of applicants, or are they just the memorable minority?
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2012, 08:59:07 am »
This means no foreign language, no "humanities" courses, no phys ed, no "soft science" courses like sociology, no history or civics, nothing of the sort that society would consider an "educated" person should have been exposed to.
You'll find none of that liberal arts stuff in an engineering degree on the other side of the Atlantic. There's barely enough time to cover the mathematics, science and engineering theory without loading on crap like sociology, history or civics. Music, arts and sports are extra-curricular activities. The facilities are there for personal enrichment but they are not part of the academic program.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2012, 09:02:03 am »
I don't think any reputable educational institution are graduating students who don't know the basics of soldering and the basics of basic test instruments.

I bet you'd be wrong. In fact, I know you are wrong, because I have interviewed and worked with many over the years, and yes, from very reputable well long established institutions.

Dave.

You are likely right.  But do you find them to be the majority of applicants, or are they just the memorable minority?

Sadly, the majority.
But it does mean the enthusiastic ones who actually know stuff easily stand out.

Dave.
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2012, 09:12:58 am »
But it's reasonable for taxes to subsidise education which does not equip the nations workforce? How is that reasonable? If you want Industry to contribute they have to see a reward. IE: graduates capable of doors without assistance.
Higher education is not just about equipping people for jobs, it is also a strategic investment in the future of the nation, increasing its economic strength and ability to compete in world markets. Viewed like that it is perfectly justified for taxes to subsidise education. Withdrawing funding from the education system, insisting students pay higher fees and all their own living costs, requiring research to have an immediate industrial application, are all examples of the kind of short term blinkered thinking that is troubling businesses today. Governments (especially the UK government) should see themselves as custodians of the economy and should be thinking long term about how to promote growth and expansion. Companies and individuals are well placed to support the self-interested tactical needs of the moment, governments should be looking at strategic objectives across generations. We elect them to take care of the things that are beyond the means of individuals.
I'm not an EE--what am I doing here?
 

Uncle Vernon

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Re: Complaining about the "broken education system" is getting old
« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2012, 02:20:32 pm »
How do you define "inadequately meets the demands of the workplace"?
I'll define adequate. Sufficient skill to understand the working environment. Sufficient skills to perform basic tasks unassisted, when required.

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Is it reasonable to expect recent grads just starting out in the fast and furious world of technology to be confident with any oscilloscope of arbitrary make and model at the interview?
It is reasonable to expect a qualified engineer to be able to operate at least the basic functions of common test equipment, it is also reasonable to expect a competent engineer to achieve excellence and a full understanding of any model in a short period of time and without bleating about not doing a training course.

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Yes indeed engineering is about practically implementing science.  The education system covers the science part, theory and such because that is what they are good at and and industry is suppose to cover the practical part because that is what they do.
what bunkum!!  Another subscriber to "Ye Olde Lord Bored System". Why would anyone wish to employ a person incapable and likely unprepared to multitask. No one is talking about using engineers to do production tasks, but an engineer unable to solder a few cable end on a mock-up or adequately use a test instrument is a liability.

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For an employer therefore to expect a recent grad to be "practical heavy" is unreasonable because they likely did some practical stuff early on before they got inundated with theory.
An ability to not pick up a soldering iron by the hot end, or ability to use test equipment, is hardly "practical heavy", those are basic skills any industry participant should hold. Hell even a sales engineer should be able to fit a plug top, test a fuse etc.

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I guess it would be possible to have the education system produce "practical heavy" graduates.
There is that "practical heavy" again, we are talking basic skills, simple stuff, fit a plug, run a trace, walk and breathe simultaneously.


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  I see two issues:

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1) educational institutions are slow to change so I don't know how they would keep up with the fast and furious pace of industry.  By the time a curriculum is developed its out of date.
The basics do not change that fast, besides that primates hoping for a junior engineering position would hopefully have made some effort to keep up to date with those industry changes, most have advanced on past the slide rule.

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2) all education that does not support soldering skills would have to be taken out.  This means no foreign language, no "humanities" courses, no phys ed, no "soft science" courses like sociology, no history or civics, nothing of the sort that society would consider an "educated" person should have been exposed to.
Those for the most part are passengers on the "B" ship.  An educated person is generally a self sufficient one, those unable to manage the most basic tasks can hardly consider themselves capable or educated.
Acoountancy students get taught how to dress as part of their studies, it cannot be too much to suggest a basic skills element be incorporated into any engineering degree as clearly most engineering graduates have never been troubled by any instuction in dress.

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There was a time when a college degree signaled to industry the graduate is trainable.
But in this time it is often likely to signal dollops of "not my job" attitude.

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These days, it seems employers expect it to be an applicants curriculum vitae.
It is entirely reasonable to expect any prospective employee to 
1) be capable of basic skills,
2) be prepared to learn, and understand that learning is not something that ceased with a qualification or something restricted tothose who possess a qualification
3) be interested in the industry he wishes to enter
4) have a clue
« Last Edit: January 02, 2012, 02:24:34 pm by Uncle Vernon »
 


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