It might be helpful to clarify what engineering education (in the context of this book) is not. It is not about the acquisition of specific practical skills, however useful or interesting they might be to any individual. It is not about training people to run CFD codes or send CAD designs to a CNC machine or to grow crystals or to sign off structural steelwork. It is about the conceptual, planning and design skills which should precede all these activities. It is about imagining and understanding and predicting, as quantitatively as possible, why and how an engineering objective can be realised and delivered. It is not about how to cut the teeth on a gear wheel; it is about deciding on the number of teeth and their shape and understanding why (if at all) this gear wheel is essential to the proper functioning of the device. If indeed the device itself is necessary.
A further important issue for engineering as a profession, and therefore for engineering education, is the widespread misuse of the word “engineer” to signify a technician or mechanic (or even, in the USA, a train driver). We must use our opportunities to educate citizens at all levels to reduce the occurrence of statements such as
“Travel chaos: Engineers clear fallen trees from a railway line in West London” Daily Mirror, 2014
“It is illegal to tamper with any of our post boxes and we are liaising with our engineers to ensure it is repainted as soon as possible” Royal Mail, 2014.
I am indebted to Kel Fidler for pointing these out to me.
Read on … (but first leave a comment below)