November 2, 2012


(Understanding the others - an ode to engineering ??)

It seems that most outstanding challenges – and breakthroughs - are in between the conventional science disciplines as we know and practice them. As an example - it is not the solid-state physics, electrical engineering or mathematics alone where the computers popped up and surged ahead. Not biology, chemistry or genetics alone where bio-technology is now revealing the secrets of life. It is the pooling and cross-fertilization of the conventional disciplines that enables the interdisciplinary breakthroughs. Do we prepare and educate the new generation to fit in there and contribute ? Well, they seem to do that despite their largely mono-discipline education and training as provided by our more or less fossilized educational system.
Globalized education
North-American universities  are very international.  An unbelievable mix on the campus is comprised of the best brains from around the globe that are brought together by the desire to learn, to contribute and realize their dreams.  This is globalization in the best sense of the word. While this way the university campuses may be a mix, the disciplines there have a hard time to 'cross-fertilize'. Academic departments represent structures very rigidly engraved by history.
For the young -
Interdisciplinary training -
and an engineering plug.
The basis of everything is to learn – and to learn to think – flexibly, analytically and on a higher level. Learn to most effectively learn more and to recognize what is important and what is not. If you manage that – you will be good in anything and everything that you decide to do. Try to see beyond the individual horizons. Apart from specific professional skills, communication skills are extremely important too. Look and think “around the globe” - and outside of the box. While a student, absorb as much as you can and don’t be afraid to combine fields. That’s where the challenges are – engineering and biology, engineering and law, engineering and economy, engineering and business, engineering and genetics, engineering and medicine - - that all is open to engineers – and vice versa.
Note that I emphasize a solid and quantitative profession as the best educational basis. Professionals such as engineers can easily branch out – it is much more difficult the other way around. One does not see many biologists solving differential equations or lawyers understanding (let alone running) hydrological models.
It could easily be noted that I am convinced that engineering just provides the most useful, flexible and quantitative foundation. It is a highly creative profession. And a most wonderful basis for an exciting professional life.

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