EppsNet Archive: Engineering

Teaching Computer Science: You Just Got to Really Want To

I’m volunteering a couple mornings a week in a high school computer science class . . . “Does anyone recognize this gentleman?” No one does. “Any pianists in the class?” About 5 kids raise their hands. “Do you ever go to YouTube and watch videos of pieces that you’re trying to learn?” Yes, they do. “Ok, this is Vladimir Horowitz.” Last time around, no one was able to identify Martha Graham. “I always know the name after you say it though,” one girl says. “Well, there’s more to life than technology, kids. There’s music, art, dance, literature . . . all these things help blow the dust off our ordinary existence. “I’ll get back to Horowitz in a minute. Last time I was here, I heard a conversation about how hard is it to go to college as a CS major. “I have some good news and bad news. I’ll… Read more →

To Young Women Considering a Career in Technology

You’ve probably read a lot of articles about how sexist and awful the culture is for women in technology. I think if anything deters young women from technology careers, it’s this glut of articles saying how sexist and awful the culture is. I’ve worked in software development for 30 years. In my experience — and feel free to discount this because I’m not a woman — the culture is not tough for women. If anything, men give women the benefit of the doubt because they’d like to have more women around. As Holden Caulfield used to say, “I like to be somewhere at least where you can see a few girls around once in a while, even if they’re only scratching their arms or blowing their noses or even just giggling or something.” Yes, I have seen bad things happen to women in tech, but I’ve seen bad things happen… Read more →

A Problem Like Maria

I’m an engineer. If you ask me to solve a problem like Maria, I’ll solve it. Read more →

When is Diversity Not a Dilemma?

I just read yet another brief — Solving the Diversity Dilemma — regarding lack of diversity in the STEM workforce. If members of Group X are underrepresented in some professions, they must be overrepresented in others. For example, I used to work with a nursing organization . . . women far outnumber men in nursing but for the five years I worked there I never heard anyone talk about the shortage of men in nursing being a dilemma, crisis, etc., or suggesting that anything be done to change it. I work in a STEM field. It’s a good job for me but not for everyone. My son (age 21) for example, never showed any interest in it and I don’t think he’ll be any less happy in life because he’s not working in STEM. There are pluses and minuses like any other profession. Simple but possibly valid explanation for STEM… Read more →

Engineering Humor

An engineer walks into a bar and orders 1.0E20 root beers. Bartender: “That’s a root beer float.” Engineer: “Make it a double.” [HT: Scott Hanselman] Read more →

High Dropout Rates for STEM Majors is NOT a Problem

The University of Colorado has a $4.3 million grant to research the “problem” of 40 to 60 percent attrition rate among STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors. Someone is missing an obvious point here, which is that there should be a large dropout rate for STEM majors. Incompetent technologists and engineers create disasters. The music department, the English department, the philosophy department, etc., etc., can graduate their incompetent students without worrying that they’re going to build a collapsing bridge, blow up a space shuttle, disintegrate a Mars orbiter — you get the idea . . . Read more →

Dilbert: Ignorance is Underrated

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Engineering is Serious Business, Says Engineering Major

The dean of UC Berkeley’s College of Engineering expressed support today for a recommendation from a student group that the college create a recruitment and retention plan for women and underrepresented minority students. — California Watch It sounds like the dean might be up for lowering the engineering standards to meet diversity metrics. Bad idea. Engineering is serious business. Also: Preferential treatment by a public institution based on race, sex or ethnicity is prohibited by California law. I’ve got a better and more legal idea: How about if the women and “underrepresented” minority students suck it up and meet the same academic standards as everyone else? Or apply to a different school? If they can’t meet the standards at Berkeley, they might do fine at a less demanding institution like Stanford or UCLA. I’ve attended engineering school myself. We had diversity admits. After one semester, maybe two, they weren’t there… Read more →

The Illusion of Control

More paperwork does not ensure greater information reliability or accuracy — it only adds to the non-value-added cost. It only seems that adding more measurement and reporting means better control. The illusion of control may partially explain an obsession with control. — “Ninety-Nine Rules for Managing ‘Faster, Better, Cheaper’ Projects” Read more →