MUSING – KEEN Musings
Is it time to change the way we educate engineers in America? About 20 private engineering colleges around the U.S. think so. (See KEEN Network) They think we need to end our traditional paradigm of preparing journeymen engineers only skilled in a particular field of study. Without compromising fundamental engineering knowledge, the next generation of engineers would be better prepared if they could see the world around them to discover ways technology-based, benefit-providing products could improve the lives of people they serve. Steve Jobs was a master at this. No one asked Jobs to develop the products he developed (and if you read Isaacson’s book about Steve, you know no one told him to develop them, either). In fact, Jobs himself said, “…customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.” Not everyone might be as gifted as Jobs, but every engineer could be prepared to think beyond the equations of their disciplines. Engineers need to develop a prescience that takes the people for whom they engineer new products to where they want to be but don’t know it yet. Prescience is built on experience, and one thing is for sure, we can’t teach experience. But we can help engineering students, in fact, all students, to create “wisdom catchers.” Wisdom catchers are ways in which a young person can look at the world from different perspectives – from the perspectives of people not like them. They need to learn empathy and how to be empathetic. Only then can they see opportunity.