David Goldberg is an advocate for constructive change in the way engineers are trained! He has proposed that in the same way that revolutions in entrepreneurism, quality and information technology in the 1960s, 1970s and 1990s brought wrenching changes in the modern engineering and construction workplace, there’s a revolution underway in engineering education—and it’s about time. Engineering education as now practiced in the U.S. was a creation of the Cold War, when a 1955 report called for more science and math in the engineering curriculum to the exclusion of practical subjects. The training of increasingly narrow specialists was aligned with the times, and corporations wanted engineers who shut up, sat down and did what they were told as small cogs in large bureaucracies.
Fast forward to the 21st century, and engineers are increasingly entrepreneurial, increasingly responsible for creating value and finding new markets, and increasingly expected to do large amounts of client-facing work and interdisciplinary teaming. The need for a broader skill set shows up year after year in surveys of engineering employers who say things like “We appreciate their technical skills, but we wish they had better communications and soft skills.” But the use of the term “soft” betrays a big part of the problem and gestures at the direction the revolution is taking in engineering education. Goldberg says that this revolution is being played out through a partnership between the oddest couple since Oscar and Felix.
DAVID E. GOLDBERG is president of Big Beacon, a nonprofit organization founded as a movement for the transformation of engineering education. He is known as an author, educator, entrepreneur, and artificial intelligence researcher. Author of the widely cited bestseller Genetic Algorithms in Search, Optimization, and Machine Learning and co-founder of ShareThis, in 2007 he co-founded the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education (iFoundry). In 2010 he resigned his tenure and professorship at the University of Illinois to work full time for the transformation of engineering education. As a movement leader, leadership coach, and change management consultant, Dave now works with individuals, organizations, and networks around the world to collaboratively disrupt the status quo.
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