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Importance of Technical Education In Engineering

Ali S/o Asghar Amjad

The general assimilation of the term “Technicality” doesn’t necessarily concern with Engineering only, it covers all Science and its sub-ordinates. It concerns with an application of ideas, to portray or understand a depiction of individual understandings and assess the evidence for learning or study purposes.

The student life from initial to the final year students according to multiple surveys learning at vocational institutes, showcased their ideas on how this particular education is the need of hour and workplace, is a necessity for all, and its impact on the job and work. It further crystallizes on one of the most important issues on the communication gap between two major professions of a workspace; engineers and technical staff can be shortened with a small change and addition in a course outline if necessary.

Results demonstrate a greater preference for certain forms of technical thinking for engineering students. The obligation as due to the notion that ‘Engineering decisions can impact individuals, communities, and the broader public positively and/or negatively.’ These results are particularly noticeable when considered in light of recent research accentuating the importance of contextualized engineering problem-framing and solving processes within a broader technical context. Finally, we explore ways in which the results open up multiple directions for future research.

Picture 1: Summary

Detail

The modern-day demand for engineers calls for more profound and meaningful education rather than skimming books to solve complex engineering problems. The outdated curriculum with limited resources, consisting initial stage engineering models cannot be compared with modern day’s challenging and complex automated predicaments that needs mind to stroll in every dimension and possibility. Research on engineering practice notifies interplays between the theoretical and technical aspects of complex engineering problems but within engineering education, relatively low content focuses on such reciprocation. Engineering curriculum often disregards the broader impacts of such education in which engineering designs, products, and services are created and used and how deficiency could impact our engineers’ futures. During our survey, our research examines whether undergraduate engineering students and technical study students indicate similar or different perceptions on the integration of technical thinking in engineering curricula and how overcoming this gap with the right set of knowledge could eliminate the communication gap and how it could enhance the possibility of complication addressing as a result of correlation to perceived learning preferences and broader interests. After reviewing relevant literature and surveys, this paper analyses quantitative survey data on students’ perceptions of the importance of technical education’s importance in engineering education.

As stated, “the ability to read and assimilate scientific and technical information and assess its significance”. further, “In this approach, the emphasis is not on how to ‘do science’. It is not on how to create scientific knowledge, or to recall it briefly for a terminal examination…. Thus, in science, students should be asked to demonstrate a capacity to evaluate evidence; to distinguish theories from observations and to assess the level of certainty ascribed to the claims advanced” (Millar and Osborne, 1998) [11]. These should be the products of science education for all students. For some students, the minority who will become the scientists of tomorrow, this will be extended to in-depth study of scientific ideas and to the development of the ability to “do science”.

Bridge between technical staff and engineers:

A trend continues despite professional engineers accentuating the importance of understanding social contexts, of how to work with non-engineers, and of how to incorporate diverse perspectives into their work [3]–[7]. To bridge this gap, it has been suggested that engineering curricula could greatly benefit from sociotechnical integration in undergraduate engineering education to encourage the development of sociotechnical thinking and habits of mind [4]. Sociotechnical thinking is defined as, “…the interplay between relevant social and technical factors in the problem to be solved” [2].

Picture 4: Bridge between Technical staff and Engineers

Technical Thinking in Engineering Education and Workplace Contexts:

Growing evidence exists indicating that the technically-based engineering curriculum is misaligned with the work of professional engineers. Although an overview of engineering workplace studies acknowledges that too few of such studies exist [6], the extant studies have similar patterns. Overall, such research suggests professional engineering practice, while heterogeneous, involves interplays between the social and technical dimensions of complex problems. For instance, a longitudinal study that involved over 300 interviews with practicing engineers, survey data from nearly 400 engineers, and multiple years of participant observations of Australasian engineers found that, “…more experienced engineers…had mostly realized that the real intellectual challenges in engineering involve people and technical issues simultaneously. Most had found working with these challenges far more satisfying than remaining entirely in the technical domain of objects” [3]. Another study, an overview of mostly U.S. workplace studies, focused primarily on U.S. engineering practice, found, “Students often have vague images of professional engineering work, and the images they do have are strongly colored by the experiences in their educational careers…As a result, students often ignore, discount, or simply do not see images of engineering that emphasize its nontechnical, non-calculative sides,” [4]. That may account for why, in the study of Australasian engineers, researchers uncovered serious student misconceptions about the actual work of practicing Engineers.

Picture 3: Technical thinking in Engineering Institution and Workplace contexts

The previous evidence suggests a mismatch exists between what practicing engineers do and how they are educated. Specifically, as a whole, engineering curricula privileges the technical aspects of the profession, including complicated theory, equations, and closed-ended decontextualized problem-solving, but tends to exclude or marginalize the social, contextualized dimensions of open-ended problems [3]–[6]. Thus, engineering students may be ill prepared for the forms of sociotechnical thinking required in their future profession. Jonassen, after describing multiple differences between the kinds of problems typically solved by undergraduate engineering students and by practicing engineers, concluded that “Learning to solve classroom problems does not effectively prepare engineering graduates to solve workplace problems” [5]. Thus, opportunities exist to bridge the gap between the undergraduate educational experience and the realities of professional engineering practice. One such opportunity involves integration of sociotechnical thinking.

Future stipulation of Engineers:

The engineer of 2021 and beyond needs to be prepared for the sociotechnical realities of the engineering profession for professional success on both a personal and global level. Many of the recommendations by the NAE focus on contextualizing the role of engineers in undergraduate engineering curricula: “Technical excellence is the essential attribute of engineering graduates, but those graduates should also possess team, communication, ethical reasoning, and societal and global contextual analysis skills,” [9]. The above quote implies that technical excellence can be readily separated from excellence in team, communication, ethical reasoning and other skills.

Picture 2: Future Stipulation of Engineers

But complex problems come as wholes, and as engineering education and science and technology studies research has accentuated, often solving social dimensions of problems can shape the technical problem framing and solving process, and vice versa [1], [10].

Conclusion:

The results provided with graphs, tables, and charts represent the idea on the Importance of Technical Education and its significance in individual’s life, be it Engineering or any else. Questionnaire has been created at the ease of students, for both kinds. For Technical students, Questions are created with very basic vocabulary so technical staff with little to no familiarity to English can fill up the form comfortably and effortlessly. Questions are explained individually to those who are unable to read or comprehend, and answers are noted.

References

[1] J. Leydens and J. Lucena, Engineering justice: Transforming engineering education and practice. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-IEEE Press, 2018.

[2] J. Leydens, K. Johnson, S. Claussen, J. Blacklock, B. Moskal, and O. Cordova, “Measuring Change over Time in Sociotechnical Thinking: A Survey/Validation Model for Sociotechnical Habits of Mind: American Society for Engineering Education,” in Proceedings for the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, UT, 2018.

[3] J. P. Trevelyan, The making of an expert engineer: how to have a wonderful career creating a better world and spending lots of money belonging to other people. Leiden, The Netherlands: CRC Press, 2014.

[4] R. Stevens, A. Johri, and K. O’Connor, “Professional Engineering Work,” in Cambridge handbook of engineering education research, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 119–137.

[5] D. H. Jonassen, “Engineers as problem solvers,” in Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research, New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 103–118.

[6] G. Downey, “Are engineers losing control of technology?: From ‘Problem Solving’ to ‘Problem Definition and Solution’ in engineering education,” Chemical Engineering Research and Design, vol. 83, no. 6, pp. 583–595, Jun. 2005.

[7] G. L. Downey et al., “The globally competent engineer: Working effectively with people who define problems differently,” Journal of Engineering Education, vol. 95, no. 2, pp. 1–16, 2006.

[8] National Academy of Engineering, Educating the engineer of 2020: adapting engineering education to the new century. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2005.

[9] A. F. Valderamma Pineda, “What Can Engineering Systems Teach Us about Social (In)justices? The Case of Public Transportation Systems.” in Engineering Education for Social Justice: Critical Explorations and Opportunities, J. C. Lucena, Ed. Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer, 2013, pp. 203–226.

[10] D. A. MacKenzie and J. Wajcman, The social shaping of technology. Maidenhead: Open University Press, 1999.

[11] MILLAR, R. and OSBORNE, J. (1998), Beyond 2000: Science Education for the Future, King’s College London School of Education, London.

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