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Engineering Faculty Debates Generalists vs. Specialists

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Jon Titus
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Re: Half-life of specialists
Jon Titus   12/29/2012 4:34:58 PM
Thanks for your comments, Ratsky. I, too, would vote for generalists based on my own experiences and those of other engineers and scientists I have known.

Happy New Year.

Scott Orlosky
User Rank
Re: Yes
Scott Orlosky   12/30/2012 6:46:25 PM
I'm more from the specialist-turned-generalist school myself, but I can see it either way depending on the individual. Engineering in particular has eveloved so much over the last 25 years, that some degree of specialization is inevitable in order to be useful to employers.  Fortunately most employers of any size offer opportunities to pursue those specializations that are most important to their business.  Foundations in the basics is key, but a willingness to learn new disciplines and to stretch your mind is the formula for success.  Now if colleges could only teach that.

Charles Murray
User Rank
Re: Half-life of specialists
Charles Murray   1/11/2013 7:00:56 PM
It's interesting to see how many commenters have mentioned the value of a more general engineering education. I would have disagreed strongly with that shortly after I graduated, but after many years I now see the value in it. Specific knowledge is great to get a job straight out of school, but a greater breadth of knowledge is more valuable across a career.

User Rank
Re: Generalist
notarboca   1/31/2013 10:06:42 PM
Charles, I have always been grateful for a generalist engineering education, picking up specialties along the way.  Completely agree that if you don't continue learning (generally or a specialty), you'll be out of work quickly.

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