Is Engineering Training Being Influenced Adversely by Professional Educators?
- R.C. Earlougher (Earlougher Engineering) | M.B. Penn (Petroleum Consultant)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1962
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 242 - 248
- 1962. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 7.5.1 Ethics
- 1 in the last 30 days
- 142 since 2007
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In recent years engineering and engineering education have extended their efforts throughout the world and into outer space. The professional individuals engaged in the practice of engineering in industry and formal engineering education are tending toward the establishment of basic differences. It is the object of this paper to review and discuss these differences.
A profession is defined as a vocation or occupation requiring advanced training in some liberal art or science and usually involving mental rather than manual work such as writing, teaching, engineering, medicine, law or theology. The last three of these were long acknowledged as the "three learned professions". Thus, by definition, the practice of engineering and the practice of teaching both are classified as professions.
Tucker, an engineer, further describes professionalism as follows.
You can't buy it, you can't ask for it, you have to earn it. What are the characteristics of a profession? The first sentence of the code of the American Medical Association reads: "A physician should be imbued with the greatness of his mission and the responsibility which he habitually incurs in its discharge". A deep sense of responsibility seems to be the distinguishing characteristic of all professional workers, and the recognition of that personal responsibility to be the root of professional ethics.
Tucker goes on to say that professionalism ". . . is a personal recognition of the responsibilities that must be done and doing them." He then presents some of the characteristics as (1) honesty, (2) initiative, (3) enthusiasm, (4) perseverance, (5) avoiding short-cuts, and (6) not bothering to struggle if fame is your aim. His remarks with reference to the first two are especially good.
1. Make yourself an honest man . . . many climb to considerable heights by remaining on-the-level. 2. Initiative . . . there are at least two types of men who never get ahead in the world. Those who can't do what they are told to do and those who can only do what they are told to do.
The authors concur with Tucker that these traits are an integral part of a professional engineer.
For years many of the engineering colleges desired that their top faculty men in degree-granting departments be qualified as professional engineers with several years of responsible engineering practice in industry. In recent years, however, the authors have observed a strong trend toward a preferred use of professional educators having advanced degrees with far less emphasis on engineering. As an example, many of the engineering college administrators today place principal emphasis on a PhD degree and on the number of technical papers authored in staffing their engineering faculties, or in making promotions thereon. Frequently, little credit is given a man's qualifications based on accomplishments in the practice of engineering unless he has an advanced degree even though he may have teaching ability.
This changing trend leads to the following question. Is there a major difference between "professional engineering" and "professional engineering education"? Or, to put the question another way, is the engineering educator first a professional engineer devoting most of his time and effort to the formal education of "engineers-to-be" or is he foremost a professional teacher? Fortunately, it appears that insofar as petroleum engineering is concerned today most of the educators qualify as professional engineers working in education. However, without adequate support, responsibility and participation by our own professional engineering society, as well as by the other similar professional engineering groups, the following question arises. Will the professional teacher replace the professional engineer in the engineering college?
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