I agree, Dave. I just read a book about engineering, 101 Things I learned in Engineering School. One of the points in the book is that engineering is first problem solving, not calculations. Calculations are only used inasmuch as they help solve a problem.
I think y'all should recollect your early American history. In those days, local shopkeepers, business people, doctors, farriers, farmers, etc. went to the Congress to DO THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE. And, after they legislated, they came home to their businesses, farms, practices, etc. Oh, yeah... they were all "professionals", but their professions were their livelihoods ONLY! Over the decades, especially since the 1800's, being a Washington politician has morphed into a profession of its own, and since everyone there learned quickly how to "polish the stone", the need for specialists in "stone polishing" led to the almost de facto "requirement" that a representative be an attorney! And, in the words of a formerly famous TV philosopher (Linda Ellerbee), "and so it goes....."
There's a lot of insight in this wonderful and important article. For me, one of the biggest takeaways is that an engineering background serves as a logical approach to problem solving, whether or not the problem is of a technical nature. Reading the comments of the members of the House and Senate interviewed here, I wish we could place more engineers in positions of national prominence.
@ dbull – I think you hit the point, spot-on: Because of the two-party system, (which is not constitutionally defined, but a 20th-21st century foregone conclusion) You must have party affiliations to get elected. Then, by default must follow party policy -- or "play ball" as you put it. Often, there are Rep vs. Dem policies, and then there is an obvious TRUTH that neither party seems willing to align with. It's a sad reality sometimes.
Great Point. One of the things bothering me is how our media handles information we receive. I really feel Congress works very hard but behind the scenes and without fanfare. We really never know the depth and breadth of what they do because the media pushes their agenda. I get e-mail from my congressman and both of our senators on a monthly basis. It seems they are very deliberate in their work and consider issues without political and party bias. I definitely appreciate this and hope all others on the Hill do likewise.
@78RPM: Great comments. I've been thinking about the high cost of college, particularly since I have one daughter in community college who will be transferring to a four-year school soon, and another who will be graduating from high school next year. It occurred to me that part of the high cost of college is related to the loss of highly-paid manufacturing jobs over the past 20-30 years. College is expensive now because these days it's very difficult to earn a middle-class income without at least some post-secondary education. When there were abundant manufacturing jobs that paid middle-class wages and only required a high school diploma, college was cheaper: it had competition! Of course, U.S. manufacturing hasn't gone away, but these days, the well-paid manufacturing jobs usually require an associate's degree. If more young people pursue career-oriented associates' degrees, not only will it help companies close the skills gap that Congressman Schneider mentioned, but it might also help bring down the cost of a university education.
This is an excellent article, Ann and Dave, and subject for discussion. I agree with email@example.com that we should volunteer our time to help science and math teachers.
Would you contribute money to the education of a future employee who would apply for a job with your company about 20 years from now? Probably not. Businesses do not want to do this. Nevertheless, very wealthy parents in China and India and other countries send their children to great universities to get the best education in the world. These great universities have continually raised their tuition rates simply because they can. Brilliant American students are getting priced out of an education. Foreign parents are paying it forward by twenty years.
(1) Let government take a long-sighted view that corporations won't by making big corporations pay the tax forward for the benefits they will receive in twenty years from these brilliant students. Let's subsidize the best students with scholarships in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). Hmm. Maybe we could investigate the reason those universities raise their rates. Do they really need to? (2) Keep the best talent that foreign families have paid for here in the U.S. Give them visas and a path to citizenship to prevent them from taking their talent and entrenurship elsewhere. Ah, but go back to no. (1) to let our own students compete for the tuition grants.
Obviously (disclosure), I am a U.S. citizen and a liberal.
What should be the perception of a product’s real-world performance with regard to the published spec sheet? While it is easy to assume that the product will operate according to spec, what variables should be considered, and is that a designer obligation or a customer responsibility? Or both?
Biomimicry has already found its way into the development of robots and new materials, with researchers studying animals and nature to come up with new innovations. Now thanks to researchers in Boston, biomimicry could even inform the future of electrical networks for next-generation displays.
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