December 20th, 2005

Beware the Engineer

Engineering Education: A New Hope

Engineering Education: A New Hope

The WSJ has a great article today on Olin College of Engineering. This is a from-scratch attempt to develop a new approach to engineering education. I think they're off to a great start. Integrating the theory with hands-on projects should be a much better way to learn than the pure lectures I got. There's also a big emphasis on entrepreneurship and self-initiated projects. And I can't complain about lots of the faculty being from MIT.

This is very exciting for me--I don't usually blow through a 100-page course catalogue for the fun of it. It's not perfect, of course. They're still too new to have much depth in any one subject, and may never grow large enough to have that much. Formal math is being pushed up front, which seems to be driven more by the accreditation agency than actual needs (though they do seem to concentrate on useful math rather than the more esoteric methods). It doesn't have an "engineering communications" class as such but there's a bunch of team projects that probably include that. Hopefully they will touch on some of Tufte's work.

Overall it looks like those students will get a better foundation than I got. I'd strongly recommend it to anyone looking to major in engineering.

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Sunday I went to a Yule circle with drgnmoonshadow, Kit, and Kelly. The coven is "Ceilidh House", which I'll have a link to when I can find their website.

The trio picked me up at home. celticdragonfly gave them a quick tour of the house before sending us off. We arrived in Denton early. They were having the typical potluck social before the circle. I didn't know anybody but there were a few familiar faces--turns out a bunch of these folks had been at Fencon. The potluck displayed the usual Celtic fear of divine retribution should a guest leave the house still hungry. Good stuff, too.

The circle was very grounding for me. I think the ritual was much closer to Wiccan than AKC, but even with the different patterns it felt like I was finding a connection. I was also meditating on the bonfire--we were breaking in a brand new copper fire pit.

More socializing afterwards. Turned out some of these folks are filkers, and have an annual filk bardic circle first weekend of February, coinciding with their Brighid/Imbolc circle. So there's a good chance I'll be back up there for that.

We were back home before 11pm, so everybody hung out and chatted with celticdragonfly for a while (I'm not sure how long, I turned in at half past midnight).