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Video: Former MIT President on the future of engineering education December 13, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Innovation, Technology, Workforce.

When Charles H. Vest, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks about “Educating Engineers for 2020 and Beyond” (link to a 72-minute Real.com video), we who care about engineering as a means to economic growth should pay close attention. As a teaser, here’s a clip of the MIT World summary:

Vest perceives two key frontiers of engineering: the intersection of physical, life and information sciences — so-called bio, nano, info– “which offers stunning, unexplored possibilities;” and the macro world of energy, food, manufacturing, communications, which presents “daunting challenges of the future.”

The kind of students Vest hopes will explore these new frontiers should reflect a diverse society, write and communicate well, think about ethics and social responsibility, conceive and operate systems of great complexity within a framework of sustainable development and be prepared to live and work as global citizens. It’s a “tall order,” admits Vest, but “there are men and women every day here who seem to be able to do all these things and more.”

To prepare this new generation, engineering schools should focus on creating an environment that provides inspiration. In the long run, offering “exciting, creative adventures, rigorous, demanding and empowering milieus is more important than specifying details of the curriculum,” says Vest. Students are “driven by passion, curiosity, engagement and dreams.” Give them opportunities to discover and do – to participate in research teams, perform challenging work in industry, gain professional experience in other countries. Vest says, “We must ensure the best and brightest become engineers of 2020 and beyond. We can’t afford to fail.” [Emphasis added]



1. Curious Cat Science and Engineering Blog - January 21, 2007

Educating Engineers for 2020 and Beyond

Educating Engineers for 2020 and Beyond by Charles M. Vest, President Emeritus, MIT Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering (nominated to become the President of the National Academy of Engineering, with a term starting in July 2007). A 70 min…

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