General Engineering Introduction/ASEE Paper/What's Next?
Help edit the book "General Engineering Introduction" in wikibooks. Assess general engineering projects in wikiversity.
Content may no longer be the control point. Students can find answers before the question is finished. Calculator-only tests are cruel. When students cannot find an answer to any question, a project is born. How does one prove there is no answer on the Internet? How does one prove the question is badly formed? These are the more important issues.
Respect now starts with creativity rather than content expertise. Projects are the starting point. Every engineering course should be evolving into an open ended project course. Imagine projects dictating content. Instructors advise. Students choose courses based upon the projects they tackle rather than arbitrary content. Projects can exist outside the educational institution boundaries of grades, semesters, and budgets. Instructors need to turn into invisible program managers. Projects need to dominate over content.
Pushing statics down into the high schools will not solve the content volume problem. In summary, encyclopedia like courses can not compete with open ended projects.
DIY and Hacker spaces are a modern church. Members pay dues and are always trying to dream up cool (open ended) projects that will attract new members. One hacker space is hacking the Bible. They will replace traditional engineering practice if nothing changes.
A hackerspace decided to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Richard Hamming's original paper. Six people sat facing each other over a narrow table with a power strip down the middle. Each had a netbook. They were reading the paper on line. They started off talking about how far they got in the paper, where they got stuck, what was confusing.
The older engineer tried to clear up some confusion. The hacker space members glanced at him and then started chattering with each other across the table, typing madly at their computers. Then there was a collective silence and all of them looked at the older engineer. The older engineer talked again. The cycle repeated itself until no one had anything to say.
The older engineer left feeling like he had just fed some birds. Some understood little, some a lot. They trusted the information they found on the net. They trusted that the collective mind in that room could figure anything out. They didn't feel obligated to understand everything. They had boundaries that the older engineer did not have. The older engineer felt obligated to absorb any information in the article or book. What set the boundary of the younger people?
The next generation's context is evolving on the web, not in text books or articles. What web sites are popular? What are their names? What has a wikia page? The boundaries of younger people seem to be set personally. Brains are being structured to hold searchable keywords (artifacts or archetypes like thingiverse or instructables), not content. Do we really want to answer the boundary question? .. yes it is “open ended projects”.