who wants to be an engineer?

Who wants to be an engineer? Nobody in the U.S. it seems. They’d rather be a millionaire, er, MBA.

Think about it. Everything that engineers are supposed to represent – creative problem solving, dealing with uncertainty, taking risks, designing innovative solutions to challenges – are now rewarded in business school programs and punished in most coursework up to and including most of engineering school.

So much emphasis on getting the one right answer for most K-12 grades is a big turn off for potential engineers. The whole S&M curriculum (just Science and Math for all practical purposes) required for admission to engineering school, is about tests or problems with one right answer. Either this is boring and kids tune out, and then don’t have the grades to get into engineering. Or they know this is bogus, and look for other “easier” avenues for their creativity – liberal arts, music, business school. What do I have to do to get an “A”?

The media certainly have a role to play in this. If a bridge collapses because the bean-counters override the engineers and buy the cheap bolts, it is the engineers’ fault. MBAs get the big bucks for their advice. If it doesn’t work out, too bad for the client, there were factors beyond our control. Hmmm…

No wonder that many kids that have “the right stuff” to be top-notch engineers are not in engineering.