Since its flowering in the Renaissance 500 years ago, there may never have been a better time than our own era to consider a career in engineering.
A technological revolution of unprecedented scale is gathering force around us. Not only will engineers and scientists have access to a dazzling array of new tools in the coming years, but the pace of change means that technology-related issues will inform almost all of the critical choices the global community faces.
There's no doubt that engineers will help build the brave new world before us. But will they be able to fully participate in the advanced technological age that's emerging? Will they be at the forefront of change leading organizations, making decisions and creating policy or will they be implementers, however talented, of others' ideas?
To fully realize the power of engineering thought to move beyond technical solutions to the inclusive, integrative mode of thinking that true leaders employ we must approach engineering education in a new way, combining study of the technical disciplines with immersion in the humanities and the social sciences.
What do these areas of study contribute to an engineer's education? To be leaders, engineers must be ready to engage in the great debates of our times, for example, how to encourage sustainable and equitable use of natural resources or achieve global security. These debates and many others like them require, by their very nature, not only a fundamental understanding of technology but also of the human record, human nature and the context within which we do our work.
In the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), we believe in educating engineers, scientists and mathematicians in just this broadly inclusive way, providing students with a rigorous education in the technical disciplines, supplemented with study of the liberal arts to develop their critical thinking and leadership abilities.
As a "public ivy" with an internationally distinguished faculty, the University of Vermont (UVM) is well poised to provide its engineering students with a unified engineering education. CEMS students have access not only to our talented engineering, computer science and mathematics faculty, but to a community of teacher-scholars across the campus of a small research university.
That engineers, mathematicians and scientists have a vital role to play in shaping the future as society's leaders is the fundamental insight around which our philosophy is built. CEMS graduates will be prepared to assume leadership roles in their chosen fields and in society in general, helping design an equitable and sustainable future for us all.