Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Whinging engineering washout complains about the quality of teaching and the volume of the workload. I hate to break it to the poor sucker, but the US has the highest quality engineering education available. That's why we have all the foreign graduate students here. There's several issues I have with his article. First, not to put to fine a point on it, US secondary schools by and large suck, in distinct contrast to our institutions of higher learning. So telling me he's got lots of gold stars, without telling me he did better than 700 on his math SAT, is meaningless. Second, it's all well and good that he thinks he's smart, but if you can't figure the stuff out on your own, you won't be much use to anyone as an engineer in the working world. Third, he obviously didn't do his research on his school. If you need someone that can actually explain science, math, and engineering, you don't go to the research factories, you go to a teaching school. I've attended some of the finest schools in the country for physics, and I can tell you that, by and large, none of my professors taught, they essentially read from the book. Now, if you really want to look at the problem, it's that if you are a professor in a prestigious university, publish or perish applies. To the degree that someone pursues the art of education, they take away from their ability to publish research, and hence, their ability to continue as an instructor. Both universities and students will seek out the best practitioner in a field, nobody even knows who the best instructor is.
And, as Edwin Rubinstein points out, we don't actually have a shortage, it's just that employers want supply to be sufficiently higher than demand to pay us dirt.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Recently checked out a couple of "social-networking" toys, namely Orkut and Yahoo! 360. I can't really see the point of keeping a "public" blog on either of them, because only members of those two communities can see it. And Orkut seems to be very heavily weighted towards dating. Especially if you want to date Brazilians. On the other hand, Linked-In seems to be having a surge lately. I had a couple of former colleagues reconnect through Linked-In, and a bunch of my current coworkers suddenly seem to be getting networked that way. Downside there is that functionally illiterate recruiters keep contacting me.