University of Vermont

CEMS - The College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences

CEMS Dean advocates engineering reform in Chronicle of Higher Ed essay

Release Date: 03-21-2007

Author: Jeffrey R. Wakefield
Phone: 802/656-2005 Fax: (802) 656-3203

Dean Domenico GrassoThe Chronicle of Higher Education has published an essay co-authored by Domenico Grasso, dean of the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences (CEMS), titled "Holistic Engineering." The article appeared in the March 16 issue of The Chronicle Review.

Grasso and his co-author, David Martinelli, chairman of the department of civil and environmental engineering at West Virginia University, criticize conventional approaches to engineering education for not broadening students' perspective beyond technical considerations.

"Building quantitative-reasoning skills should still be a top priority for American engineering education," the authors write, "but that rigor should be complemented with developing students' ability to think powerfully and critically in other disciplines."

According to the authors, training engineers in this way will better equip them to play a leadership role in confronting the complex challenges presented by the 21st century. "American engineering is in a unique position to create the 21st century engineer," they write.

The article has earned praise from engineering educators from Maine to California, as well as from engineers in private industry.

Jim Spohrer, director of service research and innovation champion at IBM's Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., responded to the authors' point that broadly and creatively educated American engineers will offer distinct advantages over growing numbers of engineering graduates in foreign countries like India and China. He emailed Grasso, "The following is key," he wrote, quoting the essay: "'The answers lie in the quality of the product rather than in the quantity of the output.'"

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